Belfast Telegraph

Man went via Belfast in failed effort to join Isis in Syria, trial told

By Matthew Cooper

A trainee bricklayer who wanted to "fight and die" for Isis in Syria but who took an "unusual route" through Belfast on his way to the Middle East told police he had planned to do some sightseeing on the way, a court has heard.

Humza Ali is also alleged to have gone paintballing to prepare himself for combat before travelling to Turkey, the court heard.

And he sent "abusive" anti-democracy messages to a Labour councillor after making his way back to the UK from Istanbul via Ireland.

Birmingham Crown Court was told the 20-year-old attended a session at Delta Force paintballing in Hockley Heath, near Solihull, along with six others in June 2014.

Opening the case against Ali at the start of his trial, prosecutor Anne Whyte QC alleged that the college student intended to press on to Syria to join Isis when he travelled to Turkey seven months later.

Ali is also alleged to have sent numerous video messages to other men showing beheadings and atrocities carried out by the so-called Islamic State.

Addressing jurors, Ms Whyte said of Ali: "He is charged with a number of different offences, all of which, we say, reflect his radical interpretation of Islam.

"It is the prosecution case that Ali wanted to and tried to go to Syria to fight for Islamic State."

Ali is said to have caught a flight to Turkey in January 2015 after making his way to Dublin via Belfast, having crossed the Irish Sea by ferry following a coach journey from Birmingham to Scotland.

Ms Whyte told the jury: "He did in fact fly from Dublin to Istanbul in Turkey, where he was refused entry.

"He was sent straight back and upon his return to Dublin on January 13, 2015 he was spoken to by a local police officer.

"He was asked about the unusual route that he had chosen and he explained that he had planned to sightsee from the coach and that once he was in Turkey he had planned to book himself some accommodation in a part of the country well away from Syria."

On June 14, 2014, the Crown alleges Ali was part of a group of men - including two others whose plans to get to Syria have been thwarted - who met for a seemingly "harmless" paintballing session.

Ms Whyte told jurors: "It was a bonding act of preparation between men of like mind and like intent.

"They were doing what passed, in their limited circumstances, for training."

Ali denies all charges.

The trial continues.

Belfast Telegraph


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