A UK mother found guilty of taking her 14-month-old baby to war-torn Syria to join Islamic State (ISIS) was on Monday sentenced to six years in prison, becoming the first British woman to be convicted after returning home.
Tareena Shakil, 26, told her family she was leaving for a holiday in Turkey in October 2014 but instead travelled to the city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of ISIS in northern Syria, Birmingham Crown Court was told this week.
Sentencing her, Justice Melbourne Inman said the woman had shown no remorse.
“Most alarmingly you took your toddler son to Syria knowing how he would be used – his future would be as an ISIS fighter. You embraced your role in providing fighters of the future. You allowed him to be photographed next to an AK47,” the judge said.
He sentenced her to four years in prison for ISIS membership, plus two years for encouraging acts of terror.
Shakil had told the court she went to Syria on 20 October 2014 with her son to escape an “unhappy family life” and claimed she was unaware of the evil associated with ISIS and simply wanted to live under Sharia law.
But at the end of a two-week trial, the jury had concluded last week that she was guilty of terrorism-related activity.
The jury was shown her tweets, messages and photographs, including images of the black flag of ISIS and passages calling on people to “take up arms”.
Shakil dressed up her son for pictures wearing an ISIS- branded balaclava after secretly running away to Syria.
“The most abhorrent photographs were those taken of your son wearing a balaclava with an ISIS logo. And specifically, the photograph of your son, no more than a toddler, standing next to an AK47 under a title which translated from the Arabic means ‘Father of the British Jihadi’.
“You were well aware that the future to which you had subjected your son was very likely to be indoctrination and thereafter life as a terrorist fighter,” Judge Inman said.
“You told lie after lie to the police and in court between February and November 2015,” he told her.
As Shakil’s family looked on in court today, the judge added: “You told your father you wanted to die as a martyr. No doubt because of your mindset you were embraced by ISIS. Your role [in Raqqa] would not be to fight but to be a wife and mother to produce the next generation of fighters.”
Her defence team had claimed she had been “groomed” by ISIS recruiters who preyed on her vulnerability following the collapse of her marriage.
Shakil claims to have become disillusioned and frightened of ISIS and flew back to the UK earlier this year where she was arrested by British police at Heathrow airport.