UK & World News

  • 9 July 2014, 3:25

Two Britons Admit Syria Terror Offences

Two British men who travelled to Syria to fight alongside rebels have pleaded guilty to terrorism offences.

Mohammed Nahin Ahmed and Yusuf Zubair Sarwar spent eight months in Syria last year after contacting Islamist extremists from the UK.

The childhood friends, both 22 years old, come from Handsworth, Birmingham.

They were arrested at Heathrow Airport on their return from Syria in January.

Appearing at WoolwichCrown Court, Ahmed and Sarwarboth admitted one count of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorism acts contrary to Section 5 of the Terrorism Act.

Immediately after their arrest, the men claimed they had travelled to Syria for humanitarian reasons.

However "thousands" of incriminating images were found on a digital camera they brought back into the UK, including pictures of them posing with guns.

Specialists said the images indicated that Ahmed and Sarwar had been in and around Aleppo, a flashpoint city in the fight between rebels and forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

Close examination of their clothes and trainers also revealed traces of "military-grade explosives" including TNT and nitroglycerine.

West Midlands Police said they had travelled to Syria via a well-trodden route through neighbouring Turkey.

Ahmed was born in Bangladesh and moved to Britain as a child, while Sarwar is of Pakistani descent and was born in Britain.

Investigations into the pair began after Sarwar's family reported him missing in May last year.

He had left a handwritten letter in which he said he had joined a terrorist group called Kataib al Muhajireen (KaM) - later renamed Kateeba al Kawthar - which means "to do jihad".

Police then uncovered online conversations between the pair in whichAhmed revealed his plan to travel abroad to join the jihad.

He told Sarwar: "I cannot tell anyone I'm going to jihad. Lol. I'll get arrested."

Conversations were also found between Ahmed and two Islamist extremists.

He told a Swedish national fighting with the KaM: "I come to join KaM."

The Swede replied: "Inshallah (God willing)."

Images of Islamist propaganda, including Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) flags, and incriminating literature were also found on both of their computers.

The families of both men say they put pressure on them to return to the UK once they discovered where they were.

Sarwar's family said he had told them he was travelling to Turkey on a trip organised by Birmingham City University, where he was studying computer science part-time.

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