Would-be ‘jihadis’ called each other ‘cutie’, court hears

Aseel Muthana assistance trial

Aseel Muthana (top left) travelled to Syria with the help of Kristen Brekke (right), the Old Bailey has heard

Two would-be UK jihadists called each other “honey, cutie and babe” in online messages, a terror trial has heard.

Forhad Rahman, 21, of Cirencester, Gloucestershire, is one of three men who deny helping Cardiff teenager Aseel Muthana, 17, travel to Syria to join Islamic state (IS) in 2014.

Messages revealed at his trial at the Old Bailey show the pair had a “profound emotional closeness” online.

Prosecutors said the messages may have been “humorous”.

In another message, Mr Forhad wrote to the teenager “radicalise babe x”.

The Gloucestershire man, who was living in south west London at the time, is alleged to have paid for a replacement passport and a coach ticket, which allowed Mr Muthana to leave Britain.

He is also accused of putting Mr Muthana in contact with another of the accused.

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Aseel Muthana and Kristen Brekke both worked in Ice Cream Passion in Cardiff, the Old Bailey heard

Mr Rahman was “a passionate supporter of those waging what he consider jihad” when he met Mr Muthana online, before December 2013, prosecutor Christopher Hehir said on Friday.

The pair had frequent chats on messaging service WhatsApp, and are believed to have met in person, before Mr Muthana left on February 21, last year.

Describing their web chats, prosecutor Christopher Hehir said: “They illustrate the assistance which Forhad Rahman readily gave to Aseel Muthana, in the full knowledge of what he was planning.

“The chats also reveal a profound emotional closeness between [them].

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Aseel Muthana made his way into Syria via Turkey, after flying first to Cyprus

“They referred to each other by affectionate names such as ‘cutie’, ‘honey’ and ‘babe’.”

Messages were “often signed off with kisses”, and “declarations of love passed between them”, Mr Hehir said.

The barrister added: “There may well have been a humorous element to this, but there can be no doubt that these young men rapidly became close friends.”

Aseel Muthana followed in the footsteps of his older brother Nasser, 20, who travelled to Syria in November, 2013, and appeared in a highly publicised IS recruitment video online.

‘Full knowledge’

Aseel Muthana went by coach from Cardiff to Gatwick Airport on 20 February, last year, before flying to Larnaca, Cyprus, the following day.

From there he travelled on to Syria and has not returned to the UK since, the court heard.

The prosecutor said the three men on trial helped the younger Muthana “in the full knowledge” he was going to Syria to fight with IS, and “they wanted to help him do just that”.

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Aseel Muthana’s older brother, Nasser (pictured), travelled to Syria in 2013

“Aseel Muthana was acting so as to become involved in terrorism. He was going to join a group who use violence in pursuit of political, religious and ideological – but above all religious – aims,” Mr Hehir said.

Kristen Brekke, 19, of Cardiff, who worked with Aseel Muthana at a Cardiff ice cream shop, allegedly bought combat clothing, performed computer searches and stored items for him.

Adeel Ulhaq, 20, of Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, gave Mr Muthana advice in online discussions, providing “a great deal of knowledge” about the Syrian conflict and about useful contacts, the prosecutor said.

He also stands accused of sending money to Turkey to fund terrorism, in a separate charge.

All the accused deny assisting another in the preparation for committing terrorist acts.

The trial continues.

source: BBC NEWS

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