Mohommod Nawaz, 30, and Hamza Nawaz, 24, both from Stratford, east London, took photos and videos of their trip to the war-hit country, including the camp.The older brother was sentenced to four-and-a-half years behind bars while the younger sibling was given three years. They had admitted conspiracy to attend a terrorism training camp in 2013. The brothers brought back bullets and took the pictures on their mobile phones to remember their time in the jihadist camp – which were later found by police and used to prove their guilt.
The court heard that the brothers only came back to London because Mohommod was missing his girlfriend, who had agreed to marry him while he was away. They are no longer together. Police discovered they had travelled from east London to Lyon through the Channel Tunnel and from there to Istanbul and on to Southern Turkey, close to the rebel held area of Syria. Photographs from the phones showed road signs that proved they had crossed into Syria where Mohommod was photographed with an AK-47 at a training camp. The exact spot where two brothers posed for photographs at a training camp has been identified by RAF experts using the latest in satellite mapping technology.
The extraordinary analysis has been able to pinpoint the area where the camp was established by comparing photographs taken by the jihadists with satellite imagery. The pair kept their trip secret telling family members they were going to get something to eat before vanishing. Some members of the family said they believed they had gone to Scotland for charity work. But Hamza Nawaz later sent a Whatsapp message to his brother Hussain and some friends, which read, ‘We’ve left to come to Syria. We know everyone will be angry with what we have done but its something we wanted to do. I will be in touch soon.’ One of the WhatsApp messages also showed that Mohommod promised his girlfriend he would come back if she agreed to marry him. Other messages home made it clear they had not told their parents and were worried about their reaction.
Mohommod was found to have five rounds of 7.62mm ammunition suitable for an AK-47 assault rifle. They also had a balaclava and ‘heavy duty clothing’, the court heard. They each handed over a mobile phone but a search revealed four more phones, and an MP3 player along with a sim card hidden inside Hamza’s copy of the Koran. The court had heard Mohommod was found to have four copies of Inspire magazine, an English-language magazine produced by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular (AQAP) on his laptop. Officers said they searched their car and found five rounds of ammo, a balaclava, heavy-duty clothing, six mobile phones, and a SIM card containing images, video clips and text messages relating to training camps. Among the evidence was a timetable, which included specific periods for physical training, military training, Islamic lessons and meals.
The judge Christopher Moss QC at the Old Bailey told them, “You were in training both of you while you were there to support the rebel fighting in Syria. In fairness to you both there is no evidence of you actually engaged in such fighting.”
Counter Terrorism Acting Commander Terri Nicholson said, “The first in a series of landmark sentences has today been handed down to two brothers who travelled to Syria to attend a terrorist training camp. The sentence highlights the critical work police and security services carry out to identify individuals returning from conflict zones. This comes at a time when the global concern about the threat posed by returnees is intensifying. Preventing tragedies is our priority and together with our partners we have a range of options available to support families and individuals at risk.”