Two men guilty of trying to join Daesh
Two men have been found guilty of preparing to travel to Syria to commit terrorist acts in support of Daesh.
Safwaan Mansur, aged 22 of Hampton Road, Aston, and Hanzalah Patel, also aged 22 of Frederick Road, Leicester, were convicted by the jury after just 40 minutes deliberation at Birmingham Crown Court for being concerned in the commission, preparation and instigation of acts of terrorism between 31 May 2017 and 24 June 2017.
Patel’s father contacted the local police force in June 2017 after becoming concerned about his son’s whereabouts. Patel had told his family that he was due to be leading prayers at a mosque in Germany but when the family contacted the mosque they were told that no-one from the UK had led prayers that month and alarm bells began to ring.
As concern mounted, police searched their family homes and began piecing together their intention to travel to Syria and join Daesh. They had bought camping equipment, outdoor survival equipment and clothing and airline tickets before travelling initially to Germany and then onto Istanbul before contacting others to arrange a crossing into Syria.
They had broken down their journey in an attempt to evade surveillance using a mix of air travel and public transport, they had even booked a return flight with no intention of using it.
The pair were detained by Turkish authorities and returned to the UK. They were arrested on 1 July 2017 by West Midlands Counter Terrorism officers when they arrived at Heathrow.
On arrest, they were interviewed by police. Patel maintained a ‘no comment’ stance but Mansur claimed the pair had planned to go to Turkey for a holiday and were due to stop in Germany on the way or way back to give out gifts – he told police that the people at the mosque like outdoor pursuits such as camping.
Mansur and Patel – who had known each other since being at school together in Leicester – embarked on a similar trip in 2016 but having got to Hatay on the Syrian border, they returned to the UK. Hatay, at the time was a transit area for individuals wanting to cross into territory occupied by Daesh. They had travelled together to Germany and while there, they booked flights from Basel to Istanbul and also obtained visas in advance of their journey. On 27 June 2016, they arrived in Istanbul and Patel activated his Telegram account enabling him to share messages online privately.
On 1 July 2016, they travelled to Hatay by bus but after an encounter with local police on 2 July they booked a flight back to Istanbul and then back to the UK.
Mansur and Patel are due to be sentenced on 25 April.
Temporary head of WMCTU Chief Superintendent Shaun Edwards, said:
“Mansur and Patel had deceived their parents with the ruse that they were going to read prayers at a mosque in Germany.
“Their families had no idea they were trying to travel to join Daesh, Patel had on his media devices links to an online guide on how to join the terrorist group and he made several successful credit card applications before using the funds to buy the outdoor equipment.
“On 15 June 2017, despite the pair supposedly heading for Germany, they bought two visas for their onward journey to Turkey and booked a hotel in Istanbul for a number of days.
“Electronic devices seized from Patel on his arrest in the UK contained graphic images, videos and text glorifying Daesh. The content gives an insight into their mind-set and showed they were developing an active interest in Daesh and Jihadi ideology.”
Chief Supt Edwards continued:
“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.
“The sooner we can intervene, the better chance we have of preventing people from becoming embroiled in the conflict and facing potential prosecution.”