Bedford man caught plotting to join Islamic State is convicted

Images of Naseer Mirza Taj on his Twitter profile
Images of Naseer Mirza Taj on his Twitter profile

A would-be jihadist who planned to leave his pregnant wife at home in Bedford while he travelled to Syria to fight has been convicted.

Naseer Mirza Taj, 26, of Tudor Court, Victoria Road, plotted to join Islamic State, or Daesh, by travelling to Syria via Istanbul in Turkey on December 31, 2014, but was arrested two days before he was set to leave.

Naseer Mirza Taj

Naseer Mirza Taj

He was further arrested by Bedfordshire Police in May 2015 after trying to obtain fraudulent travel documents in a bid to flee the country after his passport had been seized following his initial arrest.

Detectives from the Eastern Counter Terrorism Intelligence Unit linked Taj to a Twitter account in the name of Abu Bakr Al Kashmiri, which had the background profile picture of ‘Jihadi John’ and a main profile picture of Ilyas Kasmiri – who was reportedly the leader of Al Qaeda in Kashmir.

Officers also recovered communication between Taj and another man discussing what clothes and materials to pack for Syria, advice given by Taj to other people wanting to travel and conversations between Taj and his would-be Jihadi bride.

Detectives believe Taj wanted to travel to Syria, marry a jihadi bride and attend an IS training camp or ‘Muaskar‘.

Several copies of a banned publication were also found in his flat along with a downloaded document ‘44 ways to support Jihad’ and a publication titled ‘The Book of JIHAD’.

Taj denied preparing for terrorist acts and two counts of possession of information useful to terrorists but was convicted today following a trial at the Old Bailey.

He will be sentenced in April.

Detective Inspector Ryan Brammer from ECTIU said: “Naseer Mirza Taj was a very active supporter of Daesh who had clear plans to travel to Syria to join so-called Islamic State.

“He has been linked to a social media account which put out a huge amount of propaganda including messages encouraging others to support Daesh and giving advice to people thinking about travelling to Syria.

“From our investigations, we believe he was planning to attend a training camp in Syria, marry a jihadi bride before fighting and ultimately dying for IS.

“It almost beggars belief that he was willing to leave his pregnant wife behind, but it shows how quickly people can become radicalised and the lengths that extremists are willing to go to in order to pledge their allegiance to their ‘cause’.

“Such behaviour will not be tolerated in any of our communities and we would continue to urge people to report any concerning behaviour or signs that someone is at risk of being radicalised.

“It is also important to stress that the conditions in Syria are far removed from the propaganda illustrated by ISIS online – in reality it is a hostile environment and incredibly dangerous.

“There is a dedicated website, Let’s Talk About It, which has more information about how to spot the signs that someone is at risk and how to report concerns.”

> Anti-Terrorist Hotline - 0800 789 321, visit www.ltai.info for information on how to spot the signs of radicalisation.