ISIS plotter who tried to join Iraq extremist group could be denied early prison release

A terrorist sympathiser from the West Midlands who attempted to flee and join an Iraqi extremist group could be set for a longer stay in prison.

Aras Mohammed Hamid, from Coventry, tried to join the group and arrange for others to join him in the Middle East.

The Kurdish-born ISIS plotter was jailed for seven years for preparing acts of terrorism after a trial at Kingston Crown Court in January 2017.

But Hamid, who was also convicted of possessing a fake Bulgarian passport, had been set for early release in May 2020, CoventryLive reports.

Aras Mohammed Hamid
Hamid had been living in Coventry when he plotted to travel to the Middle East to fight with ISIS.

He was described at court as the mastermind behind plans to send fighters to join the Salahaddin Battalion, a Kurdish unit of Daesh. The would-be combatants also included Ahmed Ismail, a student from Courthouse Green, Coventry, and Shivan Hayder Azeez Zangana, known as Azeez, from Sheffield.

Kurdish-born Hamid had been pivotal in plans for Ismail and Azeez to travel from Gatwick to Sulaymaniyah in northern Iraq, Kingston Crown Court heard. Preparations included Hamid meeting Ismail in Coventry during the planning in May 2016.

But he was discovered alongside Azeez, a fellow Kurd who was also prepared to defy his family background, after they were found sleeping at a Birmingham mosque. Azeez, then aged 21, was arrested while Hamid was eventually detained two days later when he was found hiding in the back of a lorry on the A2 with a fake passport in an apparent bid to sneak out of the country.

Ahmed Ismail (right), from Coventry, has been found guilty of terrorism offences along with two others - Aras Mohammed Hamid (left) and Shivan Hayder Azeez Zangana (middle).
Ahmed Ismail (right) was found guilty of terrorism offences along with Aras Mohammed Hamid (left) and Shivan Hayder Azeez Zangana (middle).
Hamid, then aged 26, was jailed for seven years in January 2017 after being convicted of two counts of preparing for acts of terrorism.

Ismail, then aged 19, received an 18-month prison term for failing to disclose information about acts of terrorism and Azeez, 21, was jailed for three years for preparing for acts of terrorism.

ISIS prisoner got brother and wife to send him phone memory cards inside Harry Potter book
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said emergency legislation is needed to make sure offenders serve two-thirds of their sentence before they are considered eligible for release, so they are no longer freed halfway through.

Before being released, cases would be considered by a panel of specialist judges and psychiatrists at the Parole Board.

Speaking to the PA news agency, Mr Walton said: "I believe that all terrorist offenders should serve their full term of sentence.

"Terrorist offenders are motivated by ideology and are therefore always potentially dangerous."

On Monday Lord Carlile, the UK's independent reviewer of terrorism legislation from 2001 to 2011, said control orders would be an "effective and proportionate response" to tackle the "immediate problem" of offenders being automatically released from prison after serving half their sentence.

Control orders were introduced under 2005 anti-terrorism legislation.

The order signed by the home secretary put a terrorist suspect under close supervision, described by some as being similar to house arrest, with restrictions on who they meet and where they go.

The orders were repealed and replaced in 2011 by measures known as Tpims (Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures), said by the Government said to be a less intrusive system which addressed concerns about civil liberties with time limits and a higher test to be met for one to be brought into force.

The Prime Minister said the "difficulty" of new legislation is how to apply it "retrospectively to the cohort of people who currently qualify", but added: "It is time to take action to ensure, irrespective of the law we are bringing in, people in the current stream don't qualify automatically for early release."

Lawyers have already raised concerns about the proposal, with some warning it would open the Government up to legal challenges from those already behind bars who were sentenced under the current rules.

Some have questioned whether this would be a breach of rules under the European Convention of Human Rights.

But Government officials believe they have the flexibility to change how an offender serves their sentence, by extending the time they spend behind bars rather than on licence.

This has also prompted warnings that concerns about radicalisation behind bars need to be addressed.

Leading criminologist Dr Irman Awan, of Birmingham City University, is calling for a wider look at the Prison Service's role in rehabilitating offenders.

Dr Awan said: "The horrific terror attack that took place in Streatham has again shone a light on the release of terror prisoners.There is a clear pattern of escalating violence in these individuals' behaviour whoalso have previous convictions. Despite these similar patterns of behaviour, questions must be asked about reintegration and issues of rehabilitation.

"One way forward that offers a real opportunity for disengagement from terrorism and can help prisoners reintegrate into society is a closer look at our prison system and tackling the radicalisation process and providing early intervention."



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