A Muslim convert has been convicted of planning to join Islamic State in Syria – after his pregnant wife ‘snitched’ on him.
Ismael Watson was sent back to Britain after he was stopped trying to cross the border from Turkey into Syria, the Old Bailey heard.
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The 27-year-old, of no fixed address, had denied preparation of terrorist acts and had opted to represent himself but refused to attend court.
His first trial was abandoned and following a two-day retrial, he was found guilty in his absence.
The court had heard how the defendant, formally known as Jack Watson, came from a non-Muslim family in Liverpool and was described by his mother as “meek, mild and easily influenced”.
Following his conversion to Islam, he was “quickly radicalised” and in 2015, he married Sharmina Begum at a mosque in Birmingham.
The couple moved into a shared house in Walsall but the relationship broke down by January last year as Watson’s views became increasingly extreme from watching IS videos, jurors heard.
Prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC had told jurors how Watson had made preparations to join IS between January last year and February 23 this year.
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He took a flight to Morocco then made his way to Turkey and allegedly sought help to cross the border into Syria via contacts on the internet, not realising he was speaking to two undercover security service agents.
In a conversation on March 30 last year, an officer asked him if he had been “hot” before he left Britain, and Watson replied: “Yes I was hot. My wife snitched on me and left. While pregnant told them everything…”
Asked what jobs he wanted to do in Syria, Watson suggested he could help with film-making, proof-reading and cooking.
In encrypted Telegram chats with another officer, he described how he slicked back his hair to look more Syrian but admitted “can only change face so much”.
Watson was detained in Turkey and sent back to Britain in February.
Chief Superintendent Matt Ward of West Midlands Police 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.
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“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.”
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.preventtragedies.co.uk to access relevant support and advice.