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Tareena Shakil: First female British Isis member jailed in UK freed from prison

Former finance student took her 18-month-old son to Syria in 2014 after calling for people to fight for Isis on social media 

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Friday 15 February 2019 14:44 GMT
Tareena Shakil was jailed for six years and served half her sentence
Tareena Shakil was jailed for six years and served half her sentence (PA/West Midlands Police)

The first British woman jailed for joining Isis in Syria has been freed from prison, it has emerged.

Tareena Shakil, then 26, was jailed for six years in 2016 after taking her toddler son to the warzone and supporting Isis on social media.

Her relatives told The Mirror she is currently living in Birmingham under licence conditions, after being released last summer because she had served half of her sentence, including time on remand.

News of her release surfaced amid debate about whether another female Isis member, Shamima Begum, should be brought back to the UK from Syria.

Shakil was convicted of membership of a terrorist group and encouraging terrorism, as a result of her social media posts.

Police were first alerted when Shakil’s father reported her missing from the family home in October 2014, with her then 18-month-old son.

She had left a handwritten message which read “Don’t be sad. I’m keeping it short and sweet to prevent my own tears. We WILL meet again and I’ll be looking forward to that day all my life. Love you forever xx Remember to make dua [prayers] xx”.

Investigators found that from July 2014 Shakil had started sending out numerous posts on social media in support of Isis.

She used the group’s flag as her Twitter profile picture and wrote a post calling on people to fight: “If people don’t like the current events in Sham [Syria] take to arms and not the keyboard.”

Prosecutors said Shakil left the UK on 20 October 2014 for Turkey, and travelled onwards to Isis’s de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria.

“She had access to both firearms and the internet and she maintained contact with family members in the UK where she variously glorified Isis and spoke of the possibility of martyrdom and marrying an Isis fighter,” the Crown Prosecution Service said.

She sent a photo of herself posing with an AK-47 and one of her son wearing a balaclava with the Isis logo.

Shakil denied being a terror group member (PA/West Midlands Police)

But Shakil left Raqqa in January 2015 and was arrested at the Turkish border, later telling police that she had travelled to Turkey for a holiday before being kidnapped, and that Isis had communicated with her family.

In court, she admitted she was not kidnapped but maintained that she had not joined Isis in Syria and returned after realising she had made a mistake.

Friends expressed shock at the time, describing Shakil as a previously “normal” woman who loved reality shows including The Only Way Is Essex.

Her father, Mohammed Shakil, described her as a “perfect daughter who never went out nightclubbing and never went out doing this or going there, who kept herself busy in studies, and who wanted to be somebody in life and have an important role”.

He and his son, Tareem Shakil, have subsequently been jailed for “county lines” drug smuggling, where police said they took over the homes of vulnerable people and earned £3,000 a day.

Shakil’s father and brother had more than 100 previous convictions between them when they were sentenced to three years in prison for conspiracy to supply heroin and crack cocaine in November.

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