Terror accused Tareena Shakil 'didn't know about' IS

Tareena Shakil Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Tareena Shakil said she knew nothing about the nature of IS before she travelled to Syria with her son

A mother accused of taking her toddler to Syria and joining the Islamic State group said she only wanted to live under Sharia law, a court has heard.

Tareena Shakil said she was unaware of the true nature of IS and her travelling to Syria was "not about fighting or killing anybody".

Ms Shakil told her family in 2014 she was going on holiday to Turkey but instead travelled to the city of Raqqa.

The 26-year-old from Birmingham denies joining IS and encouraging terrorism.

The jury at Birmingham Crown Court heard Ms Shakil told her family she was going on a beach holiday with her child in October 2014 but instead arrived in the city of Raqqa, the capital of so-called Islamic State.

Giving evidence, Ms Shakil said she had sought a pure Muslim life after suffering at the hands of a violent partner who had left her to live in Lebanon earlier that year.

After arriving in Turkey she said she flew from her resort to Gaziantep on the Syrian border. There, she claimed, a contact she met online arranged for her to be driven by cab to an apartment block - littered with abandoned pushchairs and suitcases - which was full of women of different nationalities.

The following day the women were driven to a farmhouse near Jarabalus where they joined even more women, the court heard.

Ms Shakil said after four days she arrived in Raqqa, where she was housed in a walled "mansion", but soon after "wanted to come back to England".

'Wish I was there'

The court was told before she left the UK she had talked on Facebook to a man named Fabio Pocas, whose online profile showed an armed man posing with the black flag of IS.

He warned her of the perils of "living in the land of non-believers", telling her she could not live in a country not ruled by Sharia because it was forbidden.

She said: "He told me 'You cannot live in a state that is not under Sharia'.

"He said 'Look sister, by staying in England, you're hanging over the gates of hell. If you die that's where you're going'.

"The impact on me was fear - any Muslim would want to save themselves from hell, it's just how you go about it."

Image copyright West Midlands Police
Image caption Tareena Shakil was filmed at East Midlands Airport on 20 October 2014

Ms Shakil said she had no knowledge of the nature of the terror organisation before she left the UK in 2014, returning in February 2015.

Admitting she had retweeted images of the black flag of IS, she said she had no idea they were associated with the group, thinking they bore the Shahada - the Islamic declaration of faith.

Ms Shakil, originally from Burton upon Trent in Staffordshire, said a tweet to a jihadi widow in Syria in September 2014 which said "Wish I was there", was just a reference to living in the self-declared caliphate.

"I knew where she was, Islamic State, but at that time I didn't know about Islamic State," she added.

The trial continues.

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