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Tareena Shakil jailed for six years for joining IS

25A mother who took her toddler son to Syria has been jailed for six years for joining the so-called Islamic State.

Tareena Shakil, 26, is the first woman from the UK to return from the self-declared caliphate to be convicted of the offence.

Sentencing her, Mr Justice Inman said she had shown no remorse and had known her son’s future would ultimately be “as an IS fighter”.

He told Shakil: “You allowed him to be photographed next to an AK47.”

Shakil, a former health worker from Birmingham, but formerly of Burton-upon-Trent in Staffordshire, admitted travelling to Syria but denied joining IS and encouraging acts of terrorism through messages posted on Twitter.

Why did Tareena Shakil face this charge?

Passing sentence at Birmingham Crown Court, the judge said: “Most alarmingly you took your toddler son to Syria knowing how he would be used.

“You embraced your role in providing fighters of the future.”

Shakil posed the boy, who was 14 months old at the time, for pictures wearing an IS-branded balaclava, in what the judge described as one of the most “abhorrent” features of the case.

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Mr Justice Inman told Shakil she had “embraced Isis”, sending messages on the day she arrived in Syria saying she was not coming back to the UK, telling her family it was part of her faith to kill the murtadeen (apostates) and that she wanted to die a martyr.

He said it was clear she had been “radicalised” following online conversations with prominent members of the terrorist group.

Shakil, who was convicted on Friday, maintained she took her son to Syria, in October 2014, to escape an “unhappy family life”.

That was after Shakil flew from East Midlands Airport to Turkey, when she originally told friends she was going on a family beach holiday, before crossing the border into Syria.

But once in the war-torn country, she said became unhappy there too and decided to return of her own free will because she realised she had made a mistake.

She said she caught a bus away from the city of Raqqa and then bribed a taxi driver, who took her and her son to within a kilometre of the Turkish border in January 2015.

Around 60 British women are thought to have travelled to Syria and joined so-called IS.

It’s a figure often quoted by government sources but it hasn’t changed for a year, so it’s possible that by now the number is higher.

Tareena Shakil is typical of the young women who have made the journey, and this trial gave an insight into how and why would-be “jihadi brides” go to Raqqa.

She was in a troubled relationship and vulnerable to the type of grooming that saw her quickly radicalised. It might have been the regular bombings, or perhaps dislike of the man lined up to marry her, but life in “the most dangerous place on earth”, wasn’t how she’d imagined it.

The judge said he hoped her sentence would act as a deterrent, but perhaps her experience in war-torn Raqqa will be more effective.

Shakil told her trial that she made the last part of the journey on foot, while carrying her son, handing herself into the Turkish border patrols.

Sentencing her to four years for IS membership, and two years, to run consecutively, for encouraging acts of terror, Mr Justice Inman said she would be entitled to release on licence after serving half her sentence.

As she was jailed, members of Shakil’s family shouted that the hearing was a farce.

Speaking after the sentencing hearing, children’s charity the NSPCC said: “This is a deeply disturbing case which could have resulted in tragedy for the toddler involved.”