Beds, Herts & Bucks

Naseer Taj: Terror plotter planned to leave pregnant wife

Naseer Taj Image copyright Bedfordshire Police
Image caption Naseer Taj was arrested after a police raid on his Bedford flat on 29 December 2014

A taxi driver who planned to leave his pregnant wife to join so-called Islamic State has been found guilty of terror offences.

Naseer Taj, 26, had prepared to travel to Syria, marry a jihadi bride and achieve martyrdom, his trial heard at the Old Bailey heard.

Taj, from Bedford, was found guilty of one charge of preparing terrorist acts and two of possessing terrorist information.

He is due to be sentenced in April.

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Image copyright Bedfordshire Police
Image caption Bedfordshire Police issued this image of Naseer Taj's Twitter account where he uses a different name and an image of "Jihadi John" as wallpaper

The court heard Taj was "caught red-handed" on 29 December 2014 as he finalised his preparations at his Tudor Court flat in Victoria Road, Bedford.

'True intentions'

The defence claimed Taj had planned to live peacefully in Syria with his new wife, but he had changed his mind about travelling shortly before his arrest.

However, police found evidence he had booked a New Year's Eve train to Brussels and an onward flight to Turkey.

The prosecution argued the return plane ticket "was intended to disguise his true intentions".

Police found combat boots and trousers, a utility belt and a type of scarf worn by fighters in the Middle East.

The prosecution said his mobile phone contained a "huge amount of extremist Islamist material" - including three editions of an al-Qaeda English language e-magazine called Inspire - which showed "a man who had become deeply supportive of violent radical Islamism".

Image copyright Bedfordshire Police
Image caption Police issued this image of a tweet from Naseer Taj's Twitter account which they said showed evidence of "radicalisation"

Taj had assumed the name Abu Bakr Al-Kashmiri to open a Twitter account, which is no longer available.

The wallpaper on the account used an image of Mohammed Emwazi - the British Muslim known as Jihadi John who was filmed carrying out beheadings and was killed in a drone strike in November.

In his defence, Taj said he was adopting an online persona and "bigging himself up".

Police also said he had been in contact with Mohammed Uddin from Barking in east London who was sentenced to seven years in jail on Tuesday for terror offences.

He had also been in contact with a woman called Umm Jibreel - the woman police said he intended to marry when he got to Raqqa in Syria.

Det Insp Ryan Brammer, from the Eastern Counter Terrorism Intelligence Unit, said: "It almost beggars belief that he was willing to leave his pregnant wife behind, but it shows how quickly people can become radicalised and the lengths that extremists are willing to go to in order to pledge their allegiance to their 'cause'."

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