A man has been jailed for seven years after travelling to Syria to fight with Isis – but returning because he thought it was “too cold”.
Mohammed Uddin, of Wilmington Gardens, Barking, Essex, was sentenced after pleading guilty to a charge of preparing acts of terrorism at Woolwich Crown Court on Tuesday.
A South East Counter Terrorism Unit (Sectu) spokesman said that Uddin had travelled to Syria on November 4 2014, with the intention of joining Isis, otherwise known as Daesh, and engaging in combat.
He then crossed the border back into Turkey on December 12 2014, but was detained by authorities in Gaziantep as he did not possess any travel documents.
On his return to the UK, on December 22 2014, he was stopped by counter terrorism officers based at Gatwick Airport.
Security checks led officers to suspect he had been involved in terrorist-related activity and extremist material was uncovered in his possession.
Assistant Chief Constable Laura Nicholson, who leads on counter-terrorism across the South East, said: “Uddin’s purpose of travel was to join Daesh and engage in terrorist activity but thanks to the proactive work of Gatwick Airport port officers, we were able to intercept Uddin at the airport and ensure that his reasons for travel were fully investigated.
“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.
“Returning foreign fighters pose a threat to the UK and we also have a responsibility to protect UK interests around the world. Preventing travel to Syria is a key part of keeping the British public safe whether they are at home and overseas.
“Early intervention is key for the police and other agencies. Between us we can offer support to help safeguard those who are vulnerable to radicalisation. So if anyone is concerned that a friend or family member is thinking of travelling to Syria it is crucial they tell us as soon as possible.
Uddin fled the terror group after finding it ‘too cold’ and the food ‘bland’
“The sooner we can intervene, the better chance we have of preventing people from becoming embroiled in the conflict and facing potential prosecution.”
Sue Hemming, head of special crime and counter terrorism at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said: “Mohammed Uddin left the UK to travel to Syria intending to join Daesh and take part in acts of terrorism.
“It was very clear from the conversations recovered from electrical devices that Uddin had meticulously planned his trip so that he would be able to get to Syria undetected.
“Online searches had been carried out relating to ‘Islamic State fighting’, which strongly implied a more sinister purpose to his trip – rather than a holiday as he had previously claimed.
“A vast amount of work has gone into gathering the evidence used in the prosecution case and I would like to thank all of those involved, Uddin’s guilty plea is a testament to the strength of the case brought against him.
“It is vital that we bring the full force of the law against those who leave the UK to support terrorism. We will continue to work to build strong cases against these individuals to ensure that terrorists are brought to justice.”