Woman who said she was 'happy' under IS rule 'did not want family to worry'


A mother accused of taking her toddler to Syria to join a feared terror group told a court she posed the child for photos wearing Islamic State (IS)-clothing because the boy "loved wearing hats".

Tareena Shakil, who travelled to the self-declared caliphate in October 2014, accepted she had put a black balaclava bearing the IS logo on her boy.

But she denied the move was aimed at supporting IS, pointing out that in another image her son was wearing a Thomas The Tank Engine hat.

The photograph, found on her phone, was taken in a mansion where she and her boy were living with other single women in the IS capital of Raqqa, she said.

She said a group of youngsters, including her toddler, had gone into a grown-ups' room to get the hat and were taking turns wearing it.

The former college student today told a Birmingham Crown Court jury: "I said to a little boy, 'can I just put it on (my son)'?

"He loved wearing hats."

She added: "That's why he's laughing in this picture, because he likes wearing hats on his head.

"It's nothing to do with what's printed on it, even if it didn't have that (IS) logo on it, I would still have taken this picture."

The 26-year-old denies a charge of joining proscribed terrorist group IS, known as Isis, and another allegation of encouraging acts of terrorism through Twitter.

Shakil also said a picture of a woman holding a pistol on her phone was actually of her IS minder, who watched her all the time she lived at the former city governor's mansion - known as the Maqqar.

She added that a comment home to relatives saying "I have a gun" was only sent because she was told what to say by the minder.

Shakil said the message was sent as part of a "test" because she feared a journalist was using the family member's phone to get information through about life under IS rule.

Tim Moloney QC, her barrister, asked why she repeatedly told family and friends in messages back home: "I'm happy."

Shakil, of Beechfield Road in Birmingham and formerly of Burton-upon-Trent in Staffordshire, told jurors: "Because I didn't want my family to worry, at that point.

"I didn't know if I'd ever be able to escape from this place, so I had to go from day to day, it was a way of coping."

The former health worker flew from East Midlands Airport to Turkey on October 20 2014, telling friends she was going on a family beach holiday.

But she ended up living in the IS capital of Raqqa, after being driven across the border and Syrian countryside in secret.

She returned home with her toddler in February 2015, when she was arrested off a flight landing at Heathrow airport.

Yesterday, Shakil said she had gone to Syria to live under sharia law but denied she was a terrorist.

Opening the case against Shakil last week, Sean Larkin QC for the prosecution said the woman was "radicalised" in 2014, and started posting messages and pictures in support of IS.

He said: "This was no spur of the moment decision. This was planned."

Mr Larkin added: "She travelled to Raqqa to set up her new life as part of Isis."