British jihadist declared dead as he returned home from Syria is convicted of terrorism offences


From the Telegraph

A British Muslim who was reported to have been killed in Syria has admitted training to be a terrorist with an extremist group linked to Isil.

Imran Khawaja, 27, received firearms training at a base run by associates of British Jihadis affiliated to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. The bodybuilder from Watford, Hertfordshire, is believed to have entered the warzone after buying a flight to Kurdistan on January 26 last year.

Khawaja, known as Abu Daigham al Baritani or Abu Daigham al-Britani, was reported as being killed in action on June 3 this year by the terrorist group Rayat al-Tawheed. The same day Khawaja was arrested by specialist counter-terrorism officers at Dover with his cousin Tahir Bhatti, 45. 

Last month Khawaja admitted four charges: preparation of terrorist acts, attendance at a place used for terrorist training, receiving weapons training and possession of a firearm for terrorist purposes. A charge of soliciting to murder between 25 January and 4 June 2014 was left to lie on the file after prosecutor Brian Altman QC said the Crown had decided to accept the pleas.

The plea can now be reported after the judge, Mr Justice Baker, lifted a Contempt of Court order at the Old Bailey at 4.03pm.

On Tuesday Bhatti, a father-of-seven who runs a mini-cab company, admitted assisting an offender by helping him to return to the UK after his terrorist training. The prosecution accepted the plea and asked for further charges of preparation of terrorist acts and failing to disclose information to lie on the file. 

A third suspect Asim Ali, 33, has also admitted entering into a funding arrangement for the purposes of terrorism by giving £300 to Khawaja between January and June 2014. One further charge of preparing acts of terrorism was left on the file after he entered the plea on December 23 2014.

All three will be sentenced on February 5 2015. 

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