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Teen to be jailed over Syria plot

Published 07/07/2015

Syed Choudhury is to be jailed by a judge at the Old Bailey
Syed Choudhury is to be jailed by a judge at the Old Bailey

A teenage jihadist who wanted to bring Sharia law to the UK will be jailed later for plotting to go to Syria to fight for Islamic State.

British-born Syed Choudhury, 19, pleaded guilty last month to preparing acts of terrorism before his arrest in December 2014.

He fell under the influence of older men he regarded as more learned after he left home in Bradford to go to college in Cardiff, the Old Bailey heard.

Choudhury's extreme religious views first surfaced in 2012 when he began a course in business administration, IT, key skills and car mechanics at Cardiff and Vale College.

He was heard to say gay people should be killed and they would go to hell.

As part of an IT project, he made a poster reading Islam Will Dominate The World Freedom Can Go To Hell.

In May 2013, Choudhury left college with qualifications at a level below GCSE and went to Bangladesh for a few months before returning to Cardiff where he stayed with an aunt and uncle.

He had saved around £3,000 from working in a fast food restaurant and other unskilled jobs so he did have the means to carry out his wish of going to Syria, prosecutor Sarah Whitehouse QC said.

In 2014, he came to the attention of anti-radicalisation group Prevent after he attended a demonstration about the Gaza conflict brandishing a banner stating Islamic State will bring peace to the Middle East.

But he became angry and aggressive and rebuffed their approaches, the court heard.

He went on to search the Internet for topics including 10 reasons to join Isis, Turkey Travel, Jihadist Highway and How To travel To Syria These Days.

And he networked on Twitter for advice on how to join Isis in Syria.

He continued to download extremist material including the image of Jihadi John before he beheaded a Western hostage.

Choudhury had moved to a bedsit in Allerton Street in Cardiff by the time he was arrested on December 4.

Ms Whitehouse outlined a number of extremist comments he made to police.

He told officers the only reason he had not gone to Syria yet was because he wanted to find someone he trusted to go with.

Choudhury also spoke of his support for Isis, that he did not care about the UK and its laws and he wanted to be the one to bring Sharia law to the UK.

In mitigation, his lawyer Abdul Iqbal QC said the case showed a "lack of sophistication, some naivety and level of immaturity".

"He was openly using Facebook and Twitter accounts that could link to him to post material that was highly incriminating.

"There appears to be no attempt at all to disguise his involvement or insulate himself from detection."

The barrister said Choudhury now felt embarrassed by some of the things he said in police interview.

And he had been susceptible to "older men who he regarded as more learned that him" who plied him with extremist ideas.

The court heard Choudhury had a unhappy start in life. His mother was a British citizen and his father was Bangladeshi and had never lived in the UK.

When his mother abandoned him days after his birth, he was brought up by relatives in Bradford.

At the last hearing, Judge Peter Rook QC warned Choudhury that there was only one sentence he could impose - it must be custodial.

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From Belfast Telegraph