Middle East

UK court first hands out first conviction for Syria terrorism offence

Free Syrian Army fighters prepare to fire a SPG-9 recoilless gun towards forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Mork, northern Hama countryside May 18, 2014. Picture taken May 18, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

LONDON: A man who travelled to Syria to join rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad has become the first person in Britain to be convicted of a terrorim offence relating to the conflict.

Mashudur Choudhury, 31, travelled to the war-torn country with four others in October but was arrested when he returned alone later that month.

He was found guilty on Tuesday of engaging in conduct in preparation for terrorist acts after a 12-day trial at Kingston Crown Court in London and will be sentenced next month.

His conviction comes as police continue to crack down on Britons travelling to fight in Syria, saying they pose a security risk and will face arrest when they return.

Police are particularly concerned about the increasing number of teenagers travelling to Syria and becoming radicalised by hardline Islamists.

Officers investigating the death of 18-year-old Abdullah Deghayes, who was killed fighting alongside Syrian rebel forces last month, raided his family's home on Tuesday.

Police and counter-terrorism forces said they were searching four houses in southeast England as part of an investigation into the teenager's death.

They said the raids, which began early on Tuesday morning, were not in response to any immediate threat and that no arrests were expected.

Abdullah Deghayes' father, Abu Bakr Deghayes, said he was being held with his family in a small room inside his Brighton house.

"It's very upsetting and frustrating. If there was another way to deal with this I would have happily complied. I just can't understand why they would put my family through this," he said, speaking by phone to the support charity CAGE.

Chief Superintendent Nev Kemp from Sussex Police said: "This is a necessary part of our continuing work to safeguard communities locally and nationally.

"It is important, for strong operational reasons, that we carry out these searches as part of our ongoing enquiries into events in Syria."





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