Woman who took her baby son to Syria to join IS jailed for six years
Published 01/02/2016 | 11:18
A woman who took her toddler son to Syria to join Islamic State (IS) has been jailed for six years.
Tareena Shakil posed the little boy for pictures wearing an IS-branded balaclava in what a judge described as one of the most "abhorrent" features of the case, after she secretly ran away to the self-declared caliphate in October 2014
After a two-week Birmingham Crown Court trial which finished on Friday, the British 26-year-old was convicted of membership and encouraging acts of terror in Twitter posts made before she travelled.
Sentencing the bright former college student, Judge Melbourne Inman said: "You embraced Isis, you sent messages on the day of your arrival in Syria that you were not coming back and by October 28 you were sending a message to your brother-in-law that it was part of your faith to kill the murtadeen (apostates) and on December 9 you told your father you wanted to die a martyr."
The Recorder of Birmingham added: "You were well aware that the future which you had subjected your son to was very likely to be indoctrination and thereafter life as a terrorist fighter."
The judge told Shakil it was clear she had been "radicalised" following online conversations with prominent members of the terrorist group, including Fabio Pocas.
He said: "You had followed tweets and other statements from radical preachers and terrorists and formed your views from those and from discussions you had with a known terrorist, and who you described as being involved in the training of terrorist fighters for Isis."
As an unmoving Shakil looked on from the secure dock, the judge said she had planned her flight to the de facto IS capital of Raqqa and researched travelling without arousing suspicion.
"Exactly what occurred in Raqqa is far from clear," he added.
"You told lie after lie to the police and in court between February and November 2015, including that you were kidnapped, were not responsible for any tweets and any incriminating photographs were staged against your will.
"You pleaded not guilty and told more lies to the jury which they have understandably rejected."
The judge described Shakil's decision to involve her young son, 14 months old at the time of travel, as a serious aggravating factor.
"Most alarming, however, is the fact that you took your son and how he was used," he said.
"The most abhorrent photographs, however, were those taken of your son wearing a balaclava with an Isis logo and specifically the photograph of your son, no more than a toddler, standing next to an AK47 under a title which, translated from the Arabic, means 'father of the British jihad'."
Shakil had also encouraged other women to join her in Raqqa.
The judge said: "Your role as a woman in Isis was different to that of a man but you embraced it and were willing to support those in Raqqa and potentially those outside to come and play their role in providing fighters of the future and were willing shamelessly to allow your son to be photographed in terms that could only be taken as a fighter of the future."
Jailing her for four years for membership and two years to run consecutively for encouraging acts of terror, the judge said he had had to consider the total length of her sentence.
He added that she would be entitled to release on licence after the halfway point.
At trial, her defence barrister said the breakdown of her marriage had made her "vulnerable" to targeted recruitment by IS, but that did not make her a member.
Shakil, of Beechfield Road in Birmingham but formerly of Burton upon Trent in Staffordshire, told her father three weeks before her escape: "I can leave but I don't want (to). I want to die here as a martyr."
Nevertheless, she escaped IS territory, telling jurors she realised she had "made a mistake".
An order of the court made under Section 47 of the Counter Terrorism Act means that, as a convicted terrorist, Shakil must notify police of her personal details, including her home address, for 15 years after her release.