Two childhood friends who went to Syria to join rebel fighters have admitted terrorist offences after returning home under pressure from their families.
Mohammed Nahin Ahmed and Yusuf Zubair Sarwar, both 22, from Birmingham, spent eight months in Syria last year after contacting Islamist extremists from the UK and abroad. Sarwar’s family reported him missing to police in May last year after they found a handwritten letter in which he said he had left to join a terrorist group.
A search of their homes revealed that they had done research, bought equipment and then travelled to enter the battle zone via Turkey. They were arrested at Heathrow on their return to Britain in January.
Officers found “thousands” of images of the men with guns on a digital camera carried by the pair, which also indicated that they had been in and around Aleppo. Traces of “military-grade explosives” were also found on the men’s clothes and trainers.
The pair had claimed that they went to Syria for humanitarian reasons and Sarwar had told his family he was travelling to Turkey as part of a two-week trip organised by Birmingham City University. But at Woolwich Crown Court in London yesterday, they each admitted one count of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorism acts. They will be sentenced later this summer.