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Mother jailed for six years for taking young child to Syria to join Daesh

29/01/2016

A mother from Burton-upon-Trent has been convicted of terrorism offences after fleeing the UK with her one-year-old child to join Daesh in Syria.

Tareena Shakil was found guilty of being a member of a proscribed organisation (ISIS/Daesh) and encouraging acts of terrorism at Birmingham Crown Court on Friday (29 January).

She was jailed for six years on Monday (1 February).

Tareena Shakil's custody photos with and without a head scarf.

The 26-year-old boarded a plane to Turkey in October 2014 with her young boy, where she then crossed the border into Syria and spent the next three months.

She denied joining Daesh but her membership was proven as a result of enquiries carried out by the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit and other agencies.

Detectives were able to show Shakil had indeed become a member of the extremist group and was set to become a jihadi bride. 

A photograph uncovered by police showed her posing in Syria underneath a Daesh flag. She left the country in January 2015, although it is not known why.

She was arrested by counter-terrorism officers when she returned to the UK on 18 February after landing at Heathrow Airport. Her child was taken into care.

Tareena Shakil gives her account of what happened in Syria to police during interview.

As well as being convicted of being a member of Daesh, Shakil was found guilty of sending a series of tweets before she left the UK encouraging the public to commit acts of terrorism.

Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale, who leads on counter-terrorism across the West Midlands, said: “Tareena Shakil had self-radicalised by viewing extremist material on the internet, before leaving the UK in October 2014.

“Our assessment is that she was not naïve; she had absolutely clear intentions when she left the UK, sending tweets encouraging the public to commit acts of terrorism here and then taking her young child to join Daesh in Syria. 

“Photographs seized from her phone showed Ms Shakil posing with a firearm and wearing a Daesh balaclava. Another showed a rucksack with a Daesh logo and person holding a handgun. These were taken while she was in Syria.

Tareena Shakil in a Daesh balaclava; an image recovered from her mobile phone by investigators.

“Ms Shakil had already incited others to commit terrorist acts on social media and having spent months living under Daesh, she no doubt presented a real threat on her return to the UK from the country early last year.

“Thanks to proactive counter-terrorism policing, we were able to intercept Shakil at the airport and put the necessary measures in place to protect her child from their mother’s extremist ideology. 

“Early intervention is key for the police and other agencies. Between us we can offer support to help safeguard those who are vulnerable to radicalisation. So if anyone is concerned that a friend or family member is thinking of travelling to Syria it is crucial they tell us as soon as possible.

Tareena Shakil with a firearm; an image recovered from her mobile phone by investigators.

“The sooner we can intervene, the better chance we have of preventing young people from becoming embroiled in the conflict and facing potential prosecution.”

Today’s conviction comes just weeks after the UK police service, including officers in the West Midlands, launched a new film urging mothers to prevent further tragedies by taking steps to prevent their daughters travelling to Syria.

CCTV from East Midlands Airport showing Tareena Shakil before she boarded a flight to Turkey with her child.

Detective Chief Superintendent Sue Southern, head of the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, said at the time: “We are deeply concerned about the numbers of girls, young women and also families who are taking the decision to go to Syria, unaware of the dangers they face when they arrive and the fact that they are unlikely to ever be able to return home to their devastated wider families. 

“The personal accounts of the women in this film highlight the harsh reality of life for women and children living in a war torn country. I hope they will go some way to helping young women and mothers stop and think about the huge mistake they would be making if they travel.

"The results of the national online youth survey have also shown how important women are in helping to deter loved ones from travelling to Syria. This film provides credible voices that describe the realities of the situation in Syria.”

Between 1 January 2015 and 31 December 2015, 56 women and girls were reported missing to the police by their families, all feared to have travelled to Syria.

Det Chief Supt. Southern added: “We can only reduce the threat we face from terrorism and domestic extremism if we all play a part in preventing young people from being radicalised. This is why families and local communities have a vital role to play in helping to prevent tragedies on our doorstep.”

Help and advice is available from a wide range of agencies. Anyone who is worried about a loved one and concerned they are considering travelling to Syria is encouraged to reach specially trained police officers by calling 101 or visiting www.preventtragedies.co.uk