London: A British Muslim mother on trial for taking her 14-month-old baby to Syria to join the Islamic State (ISIS) claims she was unaware of the terrorist group’s true nature and had traveled to the war-torn country only to live under Sharia law.
Tareena Shakil, 26, has told the Birmingham Crown Court jury that she only wanted to live under Sharia law and feared she would go to hell if she lived in England.
The court was told before she left the UK she had talked on Facebook to a man named Fabio Pocas, whose online profile showed an armed man posing with the black flag of ISIS.
UK mother accused of taking baby to join ISIS denies terrorism He warned her of the perils of “living in the land of non-believers”, telling her she could not live in a country not ruled by Sharia because it was forbidden.
She said: “He told me ‘You cannot live in a state that is not under Sharia’.
He said ‘Look sister, by staying in England, you’re hanging over the gates of hell. If you die that’s where you’re going’.
“The impact on me was fear any Muslim would want to save them from hell, it’s just how you go about it.” She flew out of the UK in October 2014 with her child, telling her family she was going on a package holiday to Turkey.
Instead she traveled to Syria, where she remained for several months before returning to Britain in February 2015. Shakil, who claims she escaped from Syria, was repeatedly asked about tweets she had sent in the weeks before setting off.
In September, she tweeted Sally Ann Jones, who traveled to Syria and is thought to have married British extremist Junaid Hussain, who was killed in a US drone strike last year. Shakil claims she thought Jones was just “an ordinary woman”.
“I didn’t know who this woman was nor had I read any of the disgusting things she said online. It was only after, when interviewed by police that I found out who she was and what she had said,” she said.
The former University of Wolverhampton student denies charges encouraging terrorism on social media and traveling to the northern Syrian city of Raqqa to join ISIS.
The trial is ongoing and expected to last a few weeks.