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Mother who wanted her children to live under Sharia law guilty of abduction

Published 09/12/2015

The case was heard at Leeds Crown Court.
The case was heard at Leeds Crown Court.

A British-born mother-of-two tried to take her children to the capital of Islamic State territory to live under Sharia law, a court heard.

The woman, 34, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was a former "pillar of the community" who worked in finance and had never been in trouble before but became increasingly religious, Leeds Crown Court was told.

She lied to her husband that she was taking the children to a birthday party - but was on her way to Raqqa in Syria, after flying out from Heathrow.

But she was arrested en route after landing in Istanbul, Turkey, with £4,000 cash after her suspicious husband alerted police.

Wearing a black hijab, she plead guilty to two counts of child abduction on October 10, relating to her children, who were both aged under 16.

She had told her father she wanted the children to grow up under Sharia law and he told her there were many such countries, Andrew Semple, prosecuting, told the court.

"She countered there was only one that properly followed Islamic law and that was Islamic State," Mr Semple said.

The defendant was born in the UK but spent her formative years in Pakistan before returning to live in Bradford, the court heard.

But earlier this year her family noted she was becoming "more overtly religious" telling them she wanted her children to grow up under Sharia law and she wanted to give up her job in finance as charging interest on money was "un-Islamic".

In September she put a number of boxes in storage and her husband became suspicious.

He checked her mobile phone on October 9, that showed arrangements being made for her to travel to Iraq.

The next day she left home early with the children telling him she was taking them to a birthday party and the mosque. But when he checked with her father there was no party planned and he contacted police after trying in vain to find her at the airport.

"The Turkish authorities were swiftly alerted and they were able to detain the defendant, who was with her children," Mr Semple added.

She later admitted to police she had planned to travel to Raqqa and ultimately to Mosul in Iraq, though did not tell family as they would not approve.

She said the children would get used to living under IS but could return to the UK if they wanted to when they were 16.

The woman's lawyer, Marie Harbin, said she was a "loving, caring mother" and a "pillar of the community".

Miss Harbin said the defendant was "not a supporter of Islamic State, the organisation itself" but wanted to live in a state which follows Sharia law.

Judge Rodney Jameson QC replied: "It's a fairly narrow distinction."

The defendant will be sentenced on Wednesday and faces up to seven years in jail.

The case was later adjourned after Judge Jameson said he wanted to find out what sentences had been passed in other recent similar cases before passing sentence on the defendant.

He remanded her into custody for sentence on January 8, next year, but warned the defendant not to expect "anything other than a substantial custodial sentence".

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