Birmingham teenager jailed for terrorism offences

A Birmingham teenager has been jailed today after trying to travel to Syria to commit acts of terrorism alongside possessing and distributing terrorist training material.

The 16-year-old boy from Sutton Coldfield, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted the charges at an appearance at Birmingham Crown Court on 27 March this year and was handed a nine year sentence today (6 July). He will serve six years imprisonment before being released on licence for three years.

The youth − aged 15 at the time he attempted to travel – was arrested at Birmingham Airport on 12 June 2017 by officers from the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit (WMCTU), as he tried to check in on a flight bound for Istanbul with the intention of joining a terrorist group in Syria.

He had been reported missing by his concerned family earlier that day.

The boy, who was 15 at the time of his arrest, had used his parent’s credit cards to book the one-way flight and accommodation to Turkey. It is believed when he reached Turkey he then planned to make his way on to the war zone in Syria and join a proscribed organisation.

He arrived at Birmingham Airport on the morning of 12 June, but was stopped as he did not have a flight booked. He returned later that day with his passport, phone and a backpack having booked a flight to Turkey, but was swiftly arrested by WMCTU detectives.

The boy had also booked two other flights to Istanbul and a flight and hotel reservation in Barcelona in an attempt to elude authorities and cover his tracks.

When he was searched, officers found his school uniform in his rucksack and discovered Turkish money tucked into his sock.

His phone was seized and when it was examined notes and recordings were found illustrating his desire to travel and join the terrorist group.

In March, he pleaded guilty to one count of terrorist training, 10 counts of disseminating terrorist publications and two counts of being in possession of articles for a terrorist purpose.

Detective Chief Superintendent Matt Ward, who heads the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, said: “Anyone intending to travel to Syria or Iraq to fight or to commit terrorist acts against the UK or our interests should be in no doubt that the police will take the strongest possible action against them.

“Everyone who returns from taking part in the conflict in Syria or Iraq must expect to be reviewed by the police to determine if they have committed criminal offences and to ensure that they do not pose a threat to our national security.

“There is always the danger that our local people will be trained and come back and be a threat to the UK. We also need to be aware of the far reaching effects on local communities and the families of those involved.

“If anyone is concerned that a friend or family member is thinking of travelling to Syria it is very important that they tell us as soon as possible. Police and other agencies can offer support to help safeguard those who are vulnerable to radicalisers.

“Everybody has a responsibility for stopping people thinking of travelling to Syria or other warzones, including families and carers, who know them and are able to spot the early signs of radicalisation and we work in partnership with community members and groups to do this.

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

Anyone concerned about someone travelling to, or returning from, Syria or another conflict zone or is worried about someone showing signs of being radicalised should contact their local police on 101 or visit www.gov.uk/ACT