British Muslim youth gets 6 years' jail for trying to join IS

LONDON: A 20-year-old British Muslim was on Wednesday sentenced to six years in jail for making "determined" efforts to join the Islamic State in Syria to fulfill his ambition of becoming a martyr. 

Zakariya Ashiq from Coventry was found guilty of two counts of preparing acts of terrorism at the Old Bailey court here on Tuesday. 

He was arrested at Heathrow Airport in November after failing to cross into Syria from Jordan. 

The youth admitted trying to get to Syria but said he had been forced to leave the UK because he was being "harassed" by British intelligence agency MI5. 

But Judge Charles Wide said he knew what IS was and had been intent on fighting for them. 

Handing him six years in jail and a further four years on extended licence, the judge said: "You are very, very determined and your attitudes are very deeply ingrained so I am satisfied a further period of licence is required for the purpose of protecting the public from serious harm by you." 

"You were not a child and any suggestion of naivety should not be overstated. You are highly intelligent and resourceful." 

The court heard the youth left the UK in November last year and travelled through Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Bulgaria to Jordan. 

A subsequent examination of his phone revealed recorded conversations with two friends who had allegedly gone to Syria earlier last year. 

The record showed that Ashiq talked to Ali Kalantar and Mohammed Ismail about them helping him to get into Syria, saying the second he got the chance he would do "Ishtishadi (martyrdom) against any... all these people". 

Other WhatsApp messages were read out to the jury. In one he wrote: "There is no life, there's no life without Jihad." 

But after his arrest at the Heathrow Airport, Ashiq said he had no aspirations to join the IS or become a terrorist, describing Ismail as "an idiot".



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