British man pleads guilty to ISIS related terror charges in UK


London: A British man arrested at Heathrow Airport over a year ago when he flew back from Pakistan pleaded guilty on Friday to travelling to Syria to join the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist network.

Shabazz Suleman, who grew up in the High Wycombe area of Buckinghamshire in south-east England, was due to study international relations at university when he vanished while on a family holiday to Turkey in 2014, aged 19.

He was arrested after returning to the UK via Pakistan in October 2021 and charged with a string of terror offences and was due to face trial at the Old Bailey court in London next month. He has now pleaded guilty to preparing acts of terrorism by travelling from the UK to Turkey in order to join ISIS in Syria in August 2014.

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Now aged 27, Suleman was also charged with being a member of ISIS, a proscribed organisation, between 2014 and 2017, and receiving training in the use of firearms. Judge Mark Lucraft remanded him in custody until sentencing on May 26.

In an interview with Sky News’ in 2017, Suleman had claimed he spent most of his three years in terrorist territory playing PlayStation and riding his bike.

He spoke about how he’d gone into hiding to try to avoid fighting, sitting in various houses in Raqqa playing Grand Theft Auto or Metal Gear Solid on a PlayStation and having “a normal life in IS territory”.

In Syria, he is said to have assumed the name Abu Shamil al-Britani and is alleged to have carried out guard duty and patrols for ISIS. By June 2015 he had reportedly become disillusioned, saying, “I never thought I was being brainwashed until I saw the way they treat other Sunnis”.

Speaking after leaving ISIS, Suleman told Sky News’: “I take responsibility. I was with ISIS, I was with a terrorist organisation. But I didn’t kill anyone, I hope I didn’t oppress anyone.

“I did have Kalashnikov and a military uniform, but I didn’t hit anyone, I didn’t oppress anyone, if you understand. I was there with military police but like I said, I was in the office.”

Suleman is believed to be among hundreds of British nationals who travelled to the Middle East to join the ranks of ISIS and other terror networks in Syria and Iraq over the years.

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