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Teacher faces jail over Syria plans


Jamshed Javeed pleaded guilty to two counts of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts at Woolwich Crown Court

Jamshed Javeed pleaded guilty to two counts of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts at Woolwich Crown Court

Jamshed Javeed pleaded guilty to two counts of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts at Woolwich Crown Court

A chemistry teacher who allegedly planned to fight alongside self-proclaimed Islamic State militants in Syria is facing jail after he admitted terrorism charges.

Jamshed Javeed, 30, from Levenshulme in Manchester, was said by police to have begun backing the cause of the group, also known as Isis and Isil, in August last year after becoming radicalised.

In a desperate attempt to stop him travelling to the war-torn country, Javeed's family took and hid his passport but he told them he was determined to make the trip.

The married father of two was arrested in December by counter-terrorism officers amid fears that he was preparing to fly out imminently to Syria via Turkey with equipment he had bought for use on the battlefields.

Today he pleaded guilty at Woolwich Crown Court in London to two counts of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts.

The first charge states that he provided funding and bought equipment with the intention of helping others commit an act of terrorism between July last year and March this year.

The second count states that Javeed made travel plans, obtained a passport and bought equipment with the intention of carrying out terrorism between the same dates.

He accepts he intended to travel to the country to join rebels fighting against the "vicious" Assad regime but claims he is not an extremist and "has never supported and does not support the aims of Isis as now revealed and understood".

Manchester-born Javeed is said to have become rapidly radicalised from living an ordinary western lifestyle with a stable family background to someone who was determined to travel to Syria and fight for Islamic State.

Javeed's appearance and behaviour began to change in August last year and he "started to support the Isis cause", according to police.

They say he supported four associates who travelled to Syria between September and November last year before deciding to make the journey himself.

Javeed was said to have bought equipment for himself and Isis fighters to use once he arrived in the country.

Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Mole, head of the north west counter-terrorism unit, said: "The evidence indicates he has got together with a group who have been very determined to go out to Syria and fight, despite the efforts of his family who were against him going out there.

"So, friends and family have been very clear and have attempted to stop him travelling to Syria but he was still determined to go.

"He had bought equipment to take with him and had given money to help others travel there."

Mr Mole said anyone who goes out to fight alongside Isis is potentially a "serious danger" to communities if they return.

He said: "By the time you have been trained, had experience, built up future friendships and fully engaged with that terrorist rhetoric, you potentially become a dangerous individual so we take a robust approach to people that wish to engage with terrorist organisations."

A basis of plea submitted by Javeed's lawyers insisted he is not an extremist.

It said: "He has never supported, and does not support, the aims of Isis as now revealed and understood.

"He does not support suicide bombings, the execution of hostages, or forcing non-Muslims to convert to Islam.

"Jamshed Javeed believes that as a result of Isis's actions - attacking other rebel groups and its brutally-executed ambition to create a new caliphate in the region - it has shifted the focus from defending Assad, who is now in a much stronger position."

Javeed insists he would not travel to Syria now.

"There is no coherent rebel force seeking to defeat Assad," the basis of plea said. "He is appalled at the indiscriminate brutality of Isis. He does not believe in imposing his religious beliefs on others, nor does he believe that murdering innocent people can ever be justified."

Javeed said he discovered that his younger brother Mohammed Javeed was planning to join rebels in Syria in August or September last year.

He transferred a total of £1,400 to his brother's account, and accepts that he knew £1,100 of that money would be used to fund Mohammed and a friend's travel to Syria.

Jamshed Javeed did not "recruit, advise or encourage" anyone to travel to Syria, according to his account.

He was said to have been "deeply moved" by images and reports of "extreme suffering of the Syrian people at the hands of (President) Bashar al-Assad's vicious regime".

The basis of plea says: "It was against this background, and influenced by his younger brother's decision, that Jamshed Javeed subsequently came to the conclusion that he should go to support the ordinary people of Syria.

"He accepts that this would have meant becoming involved in some fighting as well as humanitarian relief. He also acknowledges that he spent time on the internet looking at various websites and followed individuals on Twitter.

"But he does not have an 'extremist' mindset. His motivation was no more than to play a part in defeating Assad or at least repelling his army from attacking the civilian population.

"He has no broader agenda than that. He had no interest in creating a new Islamic state."

Javeed claims that he did not know in September 2013 that he could be prosecuted for making plans to travel to Syria to support opposition forces or for helping his brother and two others do so.

The basis of plea said: "He did not consider himself to be a terrorist. He had hoped to resume his teaching career on his return from Syria."

He was spoken to twice by MI5 officers last December but not told that fighting with the opposition against the Assad regime would be a terrorism offence, it was claimed.

The basis of plea said: "He understood that MI5 wanted him to know that they were keeping an eye on him to ensure that he did not get involved in any unlawful activity within the UK."

On the same day that he was approached by intelligence officers, police were said to have visited his wife Shamelia and provided her with a "Syria travel information and advice booklet" which implied that joining the Free Syrian Army would not constitute an offence.

He was unable to travel last November after his family took and hid his passport, the defence document said.

After obtaining a replacement passport, he was arrested in December, it added.

Prosecutors will consider whether they accept the basis of plea ahead of sentencing.

Bearded Javeed, who appeared in the dock with a pony-tail and dressed in a light blue T-shirt, will be sentenced on December 12.

Judge Michael Topolski QC remanded him in custody until that date.

Javeed taught chemistry at Sharples High School in Bolton but there is no evidence to link the job with his terrorist activities.

Headteacher of the school Rachel Quesnel said: "It came as a huge shock to be informed by the police that they had arrested a member of staff. We acted on the advice of the local authority and the police and suspended the individual.

"This was a neutral act pending a police investigation, and in line with the council's HR procedures.

"There was no evidence whatsoever to link any criminal activity to our school or the wider community and no evidence to suggest that any pupils, staff or the wider community were under any kind of threat.

"We would like to reassure all our stakeholders that this was an isolated incident, involving one individual, and is in no way a reflection on Sharples School."

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