LONDON – Two 22-year-old British men pled guilty to terrorism charges on Tuesday after returning from months spent in Syria.
Childhood friends Mohammed Nahin Ahmed and Yusuf Zubair Sarwar admitted spending eight months in the war-torn country fighting alongside a group linked to al-Qaida.
Their families persuaded the two to return to Britain, where police charged them with engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorism acts.
Western countries are keen to stop young Muslims going to fight in Syria, concerned that they could become radicalised and pose a danger to their home countries when they return. Over 2,000 Europeans are estimated to be in Syria or planning to travel there to fight.
Before departing, the men ordered books from Amazon, including “Islam for Dummies,” “The Koran For Dummies” and “Arabic For Dummies,” the prosecutor told the court.
Sawar faked documents to convince his family he was going on a university trip, in fact laying plans to travel through Turkey to join the three-year civil war, estimated to have killed 150,000.
His family reported him missing to police after they found a handwritten letter to his mother explaining his intentions to “do jihad.”
On their return, the pair told police they had travelled for humanitarian reasons, but officers found a digital camera with thousands of warzone photographs, some showing the two carrying guns.
Specialists said the photos were taken around the city of Aleppo, the site of prolonged fighting between insurgents and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.