Lancashire

Blackburn student jailed for terrorism offences

Ednane Mahmood, 19, from Blackburn
Image caption Ednane Mahmood was said to have 'disavowed the ideals of Islamic State'

A student said he was "brainwashed" as he was jailed after trying to travel to Syria to fight for so-called Islamic State.

Ednane Mahmood, from Blackburn, fled his home after stating his desire to "fight abroad for Allah".

The 19-year-old was found guilty at Manchester Crown Court in November of planning acts of terrorism and disseminating terrorist publications.

He was sentenced to four years in prison.

Image copyright Greater Manchester Police
Image caption Ednane Mahmood left a two-page letter for his family before fleeing the country

Mahmood, who was studying Arabic at university, downloaded graphic videos, the court heard during his trial.

They included the beheading of aid worker David Haines, and charity volunteer Alan Henning kneeling on the ground after his kidnap.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said he posted an image on Facebook that contained the words: "I wish I could fight in the cause of Allah and then be killed, and then fight, and then be killed, and then fight, and then be killed."

On 18 September 2014, he left his home to board a flight from Manchester Airport to Bulgaria, leaving a letter addressed "to family".

Image copyright PA/BBC
Image caption Alan Henning and David Haines were killed after being kidnapped while on aid missions

The court heard his family was unaware of his intentions and, on the day he fled, reported him missing to police.

Mahmood travelled by bus to Turkey to a town near the Syrian border, GMP added.

He tried to contact a number of people asking for urgent help, including one man who he believed was fighting in Syria at the time.

Mahmood's requests went unanswered and, following an exchange of messages with his family, he returned to the UK.

'Barbaric forces'

During his defence, he claimed he wanted to "help the Syrian people" and had an interest in the country "from the beginning of the war, because of all the suffering".

Ian McMeekin, defending, said that Mahmood had now disavowed the ideals of IS and accepted he had been "brainwashed" by its propaganda.

Sentencing him, Judge Michael Henshell said the defendant's research into the group became a "dangerous obsession".

He told Mahmood: "My assessment of you is you were and, to some extent, are a naive, unsophisticated individual who has so far lived a fairly sheltered life."

Praising his family, the judge added: "By their actions, they prevented you from taking an irrevocable step, which would have resulted in a victory for the barbaric forces that, as you say, had brainwashed you."

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