Extremist jailed for 12 years after ‘amateurish’ trip to fight in Syria

Londoner Mamun Rashid had tried to cross the Turkish border to attend a terrorist camp

Mamun Rashid, who used his student loan to fund his attempt to join a militant training camp in Syria, has been jailed for 12 years. Photo: Metropolitan Police
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An extremist who spent months trying to cross the Syrian border from Turkey to join a terrorist training camp has been jailed for 12 years in the UK.

Mamun Rashid, 28, of East London, was arrested by the Turkish authorities in February 2019 within walking distance of the north Syria border.

He had spent six months plotting his route over the border after flying to Istanbul from London with the ambition of dying a martyr.

Rashid was deported to the UK where he pleaded guilty to preparing acts of terrorism and was jailed on Thursday.

He has since claimed that he is no longer an extremist but judge Andrew Lees sentenced him to 12 years in prison, with a further five years of being monitored.

The court heard that Rashid had signed up to a university course to secure a student loan to fund his mission to Syria to fight against the regime of Bashar Al Assad.

He had taken an interest in the plight of Muslims in Syria and told a friend “I hope I can be the best martyr.”

The court heard Rashid was briefly kicked out of his family home by his father, who suspected him of being a terrorist, before relenting and allowing him to return.

He flew to Istanbul in July 2018 and started trying to find a way into Syria. Police said they found months of text messages on his phone showing that he had tried to arrange a border crossing.

He eventually caught a bus to Hatay Province, in the south-west of Turkey, where he was caught and detained for 282 days before being deported.

Prosecutor Paul Jarvis said: “But for his apprehension, it is very likely he would have carried out that intention of joining a terrorist group.”

Rashid’s defence team said he had no plan to join ISIS or any other terrorist organisation and described his plan as “staggeringly amateurish".

Commander Richard Smith, who leads counterterrorism police in London, said: “Rashid spent months attempting to get into Syria via Turkey so he could fight against government forces.

“This case makes clear that anyone who goes to Syria or other conflict zones with the intention of committing terrorist acts can expect to be investigated by UK police and face prosecution on their return.”

Updated: January 07, 2022, 12:10 PM