Three men 'helped teenage jihadi join Islamic State fighters in Syria'


A teenage jihadi followed in his big brother's footsteps and joined fighters in Syria with help from a network of like-minded young men from across the United Kingdom, a court heard.

Kristen Brekke, Adeel Ulhaq and Forhad Rahman are on trial at the Old Bailey accused of playing their part in the plan to get Aseel Muthana to the wartorn country.

Muthana was just 17 when he left home in Cardiff on February 21 2014 to join the ranks of Islamic State and he has not returned.

He followed his older brother, Nasser Muthana, who travelled there with four other young men from Cardiff three months before, the court heard.

Nasser later achieved "notoriety" when he and other young men made a propaganda video for Islamic State called There Is No life Without Jihad which was released in June 2014, the court heard.

Opening the trial, Annabel Darlow QC said: "The prosecution say that each of the three young men in the dock, in their different ways, assisted Aseel Muthana, the younger brother, to make his journey to Syria to join Islamic State.

"By so doing, we allege, they each committed the terrorism offences with which they are charged."

Rahman, 21, from Cirencester, Gloucestershire, allegedly helped Muthana, now 19, get a passport and paid for his flight as well as coach ticket to Gatwick.

He put him in touch with Ulhaq for travel advice, jurors were told.

Rahman, an Addison Lee call centre worker, had an interest in Islamic extremist material and frequently expressed a strong interest in travelling to Syria himself, Ms Darlow said.

He knew at the time he helped Muthana that it was dangerous in Syria as two months before, an acquaintance called Iftekhar Jaman, was killed in battle.

Brekke, 20, who befriended Muthana at an ice cream parlour in Cardiff where they worked, allegedly bought kit on eBay, such as camouflage clothes.

The Muslim convert did internet research for Muthana and allowed the teenager to use his computer, jurors were told.

And he allowed him to store belongings at his house before his departure from the UK, Ms Darlow said.

Ulhaq, 21, from Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, provided "valuable advice" in online discussions demonstrating a "great deal of knowledge" about the armed conflict in Syria, the court heard.

He never met Muthana in person while Rahman, who was living in London at the time, developed a bond with the teenager in internet chat and only met him face to face less than two months before he went to Syria.

There was no evidence that Brekke knew the other two defendants.

Ms Darlow said: "All three defendants shared with each other and Aseel Muthana the same highly radical Islamic ideology and support for those waging armed conflict in pursuance of that ideology in Syria.

"Indeed two of the defendants, Forhad Rahman and Adeel Ulhaq, were part of a network of friends and acquaintances contacting each other online with a similar outlook, namely a commitment to violent struggle in Syria."

She told jurors the network included two brothers from Portsmouth, Tuhin Shahensha and Mustaqim Jaman. The third brother, Ifthekar Jaman, was killed while fighting in Syria for Islamic State, in December 2013."

Brekke, of Pentre Street, Grangetown, Cardiff; Rahman, of Cranhams Lane, Chesterton, Cirencester, Gloucestershire; and Ulhaq, of Westbourne Road, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, deny preparing for acts of terrorism. Ulhaq also denies terror funding.