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Brothers 'wanted Islamic state'

Published 05/05/2015

The brothers have gone on trial at Kingston Crown Court
The brothers have gone on trial at Kingston Crown Court

Two brothers of a British man who died while fighting in Syria had a desire to create an Islamic state, and one made purchases in preparation to join jihad, a court heard

Tuhin Shahensha, 27, and Mustakim Jaman, 23, are accused of being part of a group of extremists who came from Portsmouth and supported using serious violence to create an Islamic state.

Their brother, Ifthekar Jaman - younger than Shahensha, but older than Jaman - travelled to Syria in May 2013 where he fought and was eventually killed, the court heard.

Before fleeing to the war-torn nation he made a string of Twitter posts, encouraging others to pray for mujahideens in Syria.

Opening the case, prosecutor Gareth Patterson said: "These two defendants shared a radical belief in violent jihad, a belief that was sustained over an 18 month period leading up to their arrests a few months ago in October.

"They were both at the heart of a tightly-knit group of like-minded men, a group from the Portsmouth area originally, men who shared the same extremist ideological beliefs and who supported the use of serious violence in order to create an Islamic state.

"Some of the group travelled to Syria and fought there. Some were killed. Although the two defendants never travelled to Syria themselves, they nonetheless assisted others to travel there and the first defendant, Tuhin Shahensha made preparations himself to travel in order to fight."

Kingston Crown Court in Surrey heard that messages were exchanged using Whatsapp and Kik, secretly planning and arranging travel from the UK towards Syria.

They also allegedly discussed assistance being given to help like-minded men to get across the border from Turkey across into Syria to fight.

Mr Patterson continued: "You will hear evidence of how radical jihadists from this country on reaching Syria joined military training camps, how they were issued with firearms and how after several weeks they then joined militia groups and engaged in battle.

"You will hear evidence of the deaths caused and the injuries sustained amidst the complexities of the Syrian conflict."

Jurors heard that the brothers of Bangladeshi origin, through their "continued conduct and deeply-held radical beliefs in violent jihad, were pursuing a cause which was political and religious and ideological".

On police visits Shahensha tried to hide evidence by throwing away smart phones, jurors heard.

But when they were eventually recovered and analysed, they were found to contain a "huge number of messages, videos, recordings and internet searches, "all relevant to ISIS and fighting in Syria to create an Islamic state", it is alleged.

Jurors heard that in total investigators recovered more than 17,000 messages that had been sent through four phones over a period of about 18 months.

Amongst the data found on a laptop were recordings of speeches from extremist preacher Anwar al-Awlaki.

In addition to their brother Ifthekar, five of Shahensha and Jaman's friends also travelled to Syria where they also intended to fight, jurors heard.

"The two defendants assisted some of these friends to travel to Syria and later assisted other individuals from the UK to travel to Syria, providing advice, information and contacts to assist them to get into the country," said Mr Patterson.

Referring to tweets Ifthekar Jaman had sent before travelling to the Syria, Mr Patterson said: "The prosecution say it must have been obvious to anyone who looked at Ifthekar's Twitter account that he was focusing on Syria and supported mujahideens and groups like JAN operating within Syria and was making references to those willing to suffer death and, as some saw it, martyrdom."

One post voiced admiration for the mujahideen, who reach "life through death", jurors were told.

He had also tweeted asking about possible ways to travel to Syria, eventually leaving from Gatwick airport on May 14, and travelling to Turkey before crossing the border into Syria.

But when quizzed by police about their brother, both defendants claimed they did not know that he had travelled to Syria.

Ifthekar Jaman continued to post on Twitter after leaving the UK, often joking and using sarcasm.

In one of his tweets, he joked: "My first kill was an insect."

Shahensha, of Hudson Road in Southsea, is accused of two counts of engaging in conduct in preparation for terrorism, between March 2013 and October 2014

While Jaman, of the same address faces one count of the same charge.

One of the charges Shahensha faces alleges that he provided others with assistance, intending by his conduct to assist others to commit acts of terrorism.

The other states his conduct gave effect to his intention to commit acts of terrorism. The conduct being that he made purchases of equipment and clothing and obtained relevant information about himself travelling into Syria.

Jaman's charge also alleges that he provided others with assistance.

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