Belfast Telegraph

Ulster Muslim convert mum guilty of terrorism after her husband joins IS

By Emily Pennick

A Muslim convert from Northern Ireland accused of planning to take her three young children to join their father in Syria has been found guilty of a terror offence.

Trainee maths teacher Lorna Moore (33) was one of a number of Muslims from Walsall, West Midlands, accused of being intent on travelling to the war zone.

Two pregnant women were among their group, while a third is believed to have had a baby since she went to the so-called Caliphate.

Following a trial at the Old Bailey, Co Tyrone woman Moore was convicted of failing to tell authorities her supply teacher husband Sajid Aslam (34) was poised to join Islamic State.

The jury deliberated for 17 hours and 25 minutes.

Her co-defendant Ayman Shaukat (27), who was referred to in court as the Karma Chameleon, was found guilty of helping Aslam and Muslim convert Alex Nash (22) on their way to fight.

At the time of Aslam's departure in August 2014 Moore had taken the rest of the family on a Butlins holiday to Skegness.

The day after dropping him off at the airport, Shaukat sent a photograph of himself on his mobile phone posing with the IS flag, the court heard.

As Aslam crossed into Syria, he sent a triumphant coded message back to Shaukat in the form of a video link to a song called Made It by Cash Money Heroes.

Within months Moore had booked flights to Palma, Majorca, but the prosecution said her final destination was given away in a text from Nash's wife in Turkey saying "see you there".

But giving evidence, Moore said she would "never" put her children's lives in danger, adding: "They mean the world to me."

She insisted she had been planning to take them back to her family's farm in Co Tyrone after finishing her teacher training - a claim backed up by her mother Katherine.

During the trial Mrs Moore described her daughter as "very dutiful", "patient" and a "very good mother". She would bring her three children to Northern Ireland for Christmas, but without Aslam, who found life on their farm "boring".

Mrs Moore said her son-in-law could be "impatient" and "unkind" towards her daughter, and added he missed the birth of his second child because he had shrugged it off as "another false alarm".

Lorna Moore's relationship with Aslam ended after he became abusive and they only lived together for the sake of the children, the court heard.

She told jurors that when she turned to a Muslim cleric for a divorce he told her that a "white Muslim is not a special Muslim" and she must take her husband back. She said Aslam should "grow a pair" and come back to Britain and explain himself "if he is innocent and got nothing to hide".

Aslam's sister Sarwat told jurors her brother had been in touch with her during the course of the trial to say he wanted to "start a dialogue with police about coming home".

Shaukat, of Pargeter Street, Walsall, denied helping his friends join IS by dropping Aslam and Nash off at airports.

The convicted burglar and law degree graduate was nicknamed Karma Chameleon during the trial because he presented different versions of himself, and his home in the Caldmore area in Walsall is known locally as Karma.

He described IS as "evil" and said that he had told MI5 he would "assist in any way I could" after agents contacted him as treasurer of the community group Islam Walsall.

The former Legal and General personal case manager had several meetings and phone calls with security services before their association "fizzled out", he said.

Jurors were told about other members of the West Midlands group who allegedly set off for Syria between July and December 2014.

The first to join IS was Muslim convert Jake Petty (25), also known as Abu Yaqoob Britany.

His Christian minister mother Sue Boyce wept as she told jurors how she begged him not to go, and later had to identify his body from video footage on social media after he was killed in December 2014.

Petty was swiftly followed by former schoolmate Isaiah Siadatan (24), whose pregnant wife Kerry Thomason (24) was supposed to fly out with their two children but was stopped by police.

The court heard that he had sent her an email in December 2014 insisting that she should bring their children to him in IS.

Siadatan is believed to have been killed in the summer of 2015, although his death is unconfirmed.

Thomason has previously pleaded guilty to assisting her husband in preparation of his terrorist acts.

Nash (22) and his pregnant wife Yousma Jan (20) were arrested by Turkish authorities and sent back to the UK.

He took sole responsibility for the plan and admitted preparing acts of terrorism, while a charge against his wife was discontinued.

The jury was not told about two other men and a woman from Walsall who are also believed to have gone to Syria.

One of the men has since died in fighting, according to unconfirmed reports. The wife of the other man is understood to have given birth to a child after becoming pregnant in Syria.

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