A Muslim convert from Liverpool has been sentenced to five years in prison for trying to join so-called Islamic State. Ismael Watson, 27, was stopped as he tried cross into Syria from Turkey. He cut his hair to look Syrian. He was found guilty of preparing for acts of terrorism. pic.twitter.com/jqSz0MsmeZ— BBC North West (@BBCNWT) December 21, 2017
A wanna-be Jihadi, who slicked back his hair to “look more Syrian,” has been jailed for five years.
British man Ismael Watson, born Jack Watson, was stopped while trying to cross the Turkish border in an attempt to reach Syria in July 2016. He denied the charges of plotting terror acts but missed his court date and was found guilty in absentia in September.
Watson originally came from a non-Muslim family in Liverpool, England, and was described by his mother as “meek, mild and easily influenced.” He moved to Walsall and following his conversion to Islam, married Sharmina Begum in 2015 in a Islamic marriage.
However, the couple’s relationship became increasingly stressful after he became “quickly radicalized” from watching extreme ISIS videos and they later split up.
Prosecutor Oliver Glasgow QC said he began referring to “non-Muslims as kuffars [non-believers] and he spoke of his desire to travel to Syria.”
His estranged wife called the police and told them of her concerns on Jan. 19, 2016.
That day, Watson was detained and arrested by counterterrorism officers as he was about to board a flight to Marrakech from Manchester Airport. The next day, he took another flight to the city from Gatwick Airport and then flew to Turkey.
He did not show up for his flight back to England on Feb 9. Instead, Watson sought help on how to get to Syria through contacts on the internet and vowed to carry out atrocities during the encrypted chats. Little did he know that he was speaking to two security service agents.
When he finally tried to cross the Turkish border, he was detained by Turkish authorities and sent back to England, where he was arrested by the British police.
Prosecutors said the chats showed Watson's “hatred for Western society” and his willingness to fight in a "holy war" against the West.
The 27-year-old, who was previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder, denies the charges but said his “wife snitched on me and left. While pregnant told them everything...”
“There is no doubt that had he succeeded in his attempt to enter Syria he would have joined IS and that he would have fought for them,” Glasgow said.
The presiding judge, Anuja Dhir, told Watson he had “deep and extensive radicalized beliefs” proven by the huge number of extremist material found on his cell phone as well as his support for ISIS.
Besides the five-year prison sentence, Watson has now been ordered to spend an extra 12 months on extended license.
Banner/Thumbnail credit: West Midlands Police