A gap-year student who vowed to battle British soldiers with a Koran in one hand and a Kalashnikov in the other has been jailed.
Mohamed Abushamma, 21, was intercepted by anti-terror police in Turkey as he attempted to travel to Afghanistan to join pro-Taliban fighters.
The youth hoped to enter Afghanistan via its northern border with Tajikistan, after trekking over the mountainous border between the two countries.
Once there, he hoped to join mujihadeen fighters engaged in bloody fighting with coalition troops.
At Croydon Crown Court yesterday, Judge Mr Justice Bean sentenced Abushamma to three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to preparing for acts of terrorism.
His friend Qasim Abukar, 21, who travelled with him to Turkey, was cleared of the same offence by a jury earlier this month, despite going on the run in the middle of his trial.
Mr Justice Bean told Abushamma: “You have pleaded guilty to preparing for acts of terrorism. You decided to travel to Afghanistan to join the mujihadeen.
“In that country, you were seeking to overthrow the government by force, fighting against the government and the coalition forces, assisting them in order to advance the ideological cause of militant islamism.
“Fortunately, you were intercepted in Turkey before you could reach your destination.
“I accept that what you have done is nothing like as grave as actually committing a terrorist outrage, or even attempting one, but it is a grave and serious offence.”
The court heard that in April last year, British anti-terror police received intelligence that Abukar and Abushamma were going to try to reach Afghanistan.
As there are few direct flights to Kandahar, Abushamma was attempting to reach it by flying to Turkey, then taking a connecting flight to Tajikistan before trekking overland.
The pair flew to Ankara on April 17, but were intercepted near the Turkish capital by police the following day.
When they returned to Britain on April 21, both men were arrested, with Abushamma admitting in November last year that he had hoped to pursue violent jihad in Afghanistan.
Prosecutor Alison Morgan told the court than in an email sent to his father and sister before his departure for Turkey, Abushamma “clearly indicated that he would be fighting with a Koran in one hand and an AK47 in the other.”
Abushamma, who was due to start a course at University College London in September last year, decided to fight violent Jihad after being radicalised by reading extremist websites.
His lawyer Imran Khan told the court his client was from an illustrious’ family – his grandfather was a general and his great-grandfather was the first president of the Sudan.
His parents had sent him to study medicine in the Sudan, after he failed to get into medical school in Britain when he only got an A and two Bs at A-level, but he refused to stay there and returned to Britain.
He had also spent a year studying Arabic in Egypt.
Mr Khan urged the judge to give his client a suspended sentence, telling the court that he had repented of his actions and was now working to try and dissuade other young people from extremism.
Abushamma, of Britannia Row, Islington, North London, admitted engaging in conduct in preparation for committing acts of terrorism.
Abukar, of Dartmouth Park Hill, Upper Holloway, North London, denied the same charge.
He was acquitted after claiming he thought he was going on a trekking holiday’ when he travelled to Turkey, and that he had been deceived by his co-defendant.
He absconded halfway through his trial and has not been seen since