A radical Muslim student who planned to join Islamic extremist forces in Syria has been jailed for three and a half years in the UK.
David Souaan, who told the court that he posed for pictures holding guns because he wanted to look “cool”, was sentenced yesterday after having been found guilty of planning and preparing to carry out terrorist acts. The Old Bailey heard that fellow students had previously raised concerns about Souaan’s violent photographs and radical views on Islam.
The 20-year-old had visited Syria in 2013 and was trying to return there when he was arrested at Heathrow airport in May. Police seized his laptop and phone and found pictures, videos and documents revealing his “extremist sympathies”.
Prosecutor Sarah Whitehouse QC said one of the video clips found on Souann’s phone, which showed a man’s throat being cut, was “so graphic and so shocking” that it could not be played in court.
Whitehouse added that a man- “probably Souaan”- could be heard in the background of a video he had filmed at a demonstration, saying: “The flag of Tawheed in London. All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Universe.” This, she said, was a reference to the extremists’ wish of seeing the black flag of the Islamic State militants flying over Downing Street.
Souaan first came to the UK in 2013 to study International Relations at Birkbeck College in London. His mitigation lawyer, who referred to him as an “emotionally immature and naïve” young man, said that he had felt “lonely and isolated” while living in the UK capital.
Sentencing Souaan to be detained in a young offender institution, Judge Peter Rook commented that the student had been “vulnerable to extremist views” owing to his youth and extreme immaturity.
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