UK

Trainee teacher guilty of not revealing husband's IS plans

Lorna Moore and Ayman Shaukat Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Lorna Moore and Ayman Shaukat both denied terror offences

A mother-of-three and trainee maths teacher from Walsall has been found guilty of failing to tell the authorities her husband was about to join the so-called Islamic State.

Lorna Moore, 33, born in County Tyrone, knew Sajid Aslam, 34, was part of a network going to Syria, a jury found.

Their friend, Ayman Shaukat, 27, was also convicted for his roles in helping Mr Aslam and another man to travel.

Police say women were being urged to go and give birth inside IS territory.

'Psychological abuse'

BBC home affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani said police believe at least a dozen people from the town, including pregnant women, tried to reach Syria in 2014.

Walsall to Syria: Fighters, travellers and victims?

One woman in the group, a mother of two who was pregnant at the time she intended to travel, has previously pleaded guilty.

Moore, a Muslim convert, had denied the terror offences, saying she had been the victim of years of psychological abuse from her husband.

Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Ayman Shaukat was convicted of helping Sajid Aslam travel to join the self-styled Islamic State in Syria. The court heard he had an IS flag above his bed

The court heard that Moore was brought up a Protestant in Omagh, and met her husband while studying at university in Manchester in 2000.

She converted to Islam so they could marry, but the relationship later crumbled after the birth of their first two children.

She asked a Muslim cleric for a divorce, but was told a "white Muslim is not a special Muslim" and she must take her husband back, she told the court.

The couple began living separate lives under the same roof, she said.

'See you there'

Mr Aslam, a supply teacher, became part of a group of men in the West Midlands who became intent on travelling to join IS, the jury heard.

He left the UK in August 2014, while Moore took their children to Butlins holiday park in Skegness.

He was driven to the airport by Shaukat, a convicted burglar and law degree graduate, who has also been found guilty of helping Muslim convert Alex Nash, 22, to travel to the war zone.

As he crossed into Syria, Mr Aslam sent a triumphant coded message back to Shaukat in the form of a video link to a song called Made It, by Cash Money Heroes.

Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption One of the first of the group to travel to Syria was Jake Petty, whose mother gave evidence during the trial

Within months, Moore had booked flights to Palma, Majorca, but the prosecution said her final destination was given away in a text from Nash's wife in Turkey saying "see you there".

In court, Moore said she would "never" put her children's lives in danger, insisting she had in fact been planning to take them back to her family's farm in Omagh - a claim backed up by her mother.

Mr Aslam has told his family he is teaching in refugee camps in Turkey, but his sister Sarwat told jurors he had been in touch during the course of the trial to say he wanted to "start a dialogue with police about coming home".

The BBC has contacted him via social media - but he has not responded.

Jurors were also told about other members of the West Midlands group who allegedly set off for Syria between July and December 2014.

The first to join IS was Muslim convert Jake Petty, 25, also known as Abu Yaqoob Britany.

Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Alex Nash, 22, and his pregnant wife Yousma Jan, 20, were stopped by Turkish authorities as they tried to travel to Syria

His mother Sue Boyce, a Christian minister, wept as she told jurors she begged him not to go, and later had to identify his body from video footage on social media after he was killed in December 2014.

Petty was swiftly followed by former schoolmate Isaiah Siadatan, 24, whose pregnant wife Kerry Thomason, 24, was supposed to fly out with their two children but was stopped by police.

'Criminal and dangerous'

Siadatan is believed to have been killed in the summer of 2015, although his death is unconfirmed. Thomason has previously pleaded guilty to assisting her husband in preparation of his terrorist acts.

Nash, 22, and his pregnant wife Yousma Jan, 20, also attempted to travel to Syria, but were arrested by Turkish authorities and sent back to the UK. He took sole responsibility for the plan and admitted preparing acts of terrorism, while a charge against his wife was discontinued.

Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Kerry Thomason, 24, admitted assisting her husband's departure for Syria

Neither Moore nor Shaukat showed any emotion as the guilty verdicts were delivered.

Judge Charles Wide granted Moore conditional bail out of "concern" for her children, but told her she should have "no expectations raised" about the likely sentence.

She left the courtroom accompanied by a man who is believed to be a close relative.

A date for their sentencing hearing is yet to be fixed.

Afterwards, West Midlands Police's Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale said the case showed that "whether you are a traveller and going to join" or you someone who helps in organising, "that's just as criminal and just as dangerous".

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