British jihadists who travelled to Syria jailed for 13 years

Judge: Mohammed Ahmed and Yusuf Sarwar, both 22, are “deeply committed to violent extremism”

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Two British jihadists have been jailed for nearly 13 years after their claims to be travelling to Syria for humanitarian work were exposed by thousands of war-zone images found on their digital camera.

A judge said that childhood friends Mohammed Ahmed and Yusuf Sarwar, both 22, were “deeply committed to violent extremism” after contacting extremists online.

The pair from Birmingham – who had no previous run-ins with the police or links to extremist groups – had prepared for their trip to Syria by reading up books on Islam and Arabic from the “For Dummies” range of books.

“They willingly, enthusiastically and with a great deal of purpose, persistence and determination embarked on a course intending to commit acts of terrorism,” said Judge Michael Topolski QC. “Both of these defendants are fundamentalists who are interested in and deeply committed to violent extremism.”


Sarwar, a part-time computer science student, had faked documents to try to dupe his family into believing he was heading to Turkey on a university-organised trip.

But his family reported him missing to police in May after receiving a letter from him detailing his intention to “do jihad” by joining terrorist group Kataib al-Muhajireen (KaM).

A police search of their home revealed an online conversation between Ahmed and a Swedish KaM fighter. Police also found images of Isis flags on their computers, extremist literature and evidence of online conversations between the pair and Islamic extremists.

The judge said that he believed the pair had not planned for an attack in Britain but found it “deeply disturbing” that instructions were found in their belongings on how to make a home-made bomb. The pair had claimed that they returned to the UK in January in part because of the rise of Isis and wanted no part in its brutality.

Mohammed Nahin Ahmed and Yusuf Zubair Sarwar have been jailed for 12 years for fighting in Syria (PA)

Detective Chief Superintendent Sue Southern, head of West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit, said: “This case typifies the challenges both police and families are facing when it comes to young people being influenced to join the conflict in Syria or Iraq. These two men had no previous connections to extremist organisations and no police record. They were not known to us. However, one of them was clearly being influenced by extremists he was talking to online, and he in turn was radicalising his friend.”

They were jailed on the same day that the first man convicted of terror offences linked to Syria was also jailed for four years. Mashudur Choudhury, 31, was arrested after he arrived back at Gatwick Airport from a training camp in the country in October 2013.

He was convicted after a two-week trial which heard that he travelled to the area with four other people from his area of Portsmouth whom he dubbed the “Britani brigade Bangladeshi bad boys”. He had discussed becoming a martyr.