A would-be jihadist who planned to leave his pregnant wife at home in Bedford while he travelled to fight in Syria has been jailed for eight years and three months.
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.
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.
Officers seized kit for his trip, including factor 50 sun cream, cash, a mosquito net and combat clothes. A ‘selfie’ picture Taj had taken on his phone while he was travelling on the Eurostar on a previous trip was also recovered.
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 following a trial at the Old Bailey. He was sentenced to eight years and three months today (Friday).
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.
“The sad reality is that his intentions meant he has now missed out on the birth of his child and will not be there to see them growing up.
“We work hard with partner agencies and our communities to identify those who seek to exploit the vulnerable in our society, or who have extreme views in order to intervene and divert them away from that path.
“Those who choose to plan, carry out, or encourage others to carry out, acts of terrorism have no place in our communities and we will work hard to identify, arrest and bring to justice those who do.
“Syria is a hostile conflict zone which is incredibly dangerous and far-removed from the propaganda illustrated by IS online.”
There is a dedicated website, Let’s Talk About It (www.ltai.info), which has more information about how to spot the signs that someone is at risk and how to report concerns.
People can also visit Prevent Tragedies for more information and advice www.preventtragedies.co.uk
People should remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to police on the Anti-Terrorist Hotline - 0800 789 321.