- 26-year-old fled UK for Syria because she wanted to live under sharia law
- Mother took her toddler and both were later pictured in ISIS balaclavas
- She was found guilty of joining ISIS and encouraging acts of terror
- She's the first British woman to be convicted after returning from warzone
- Shakil used to enjoy watching The Only Way is Essex and lived in Staffordshire before becoming radicalised and travelling to Syria
Tareena Shakil has been found guilty of taking her son and joining ISIS and encouraging terror on the internet
A British mother has been found guilty of taking her toddler son to Syria to join terror group ISIS.
Tareena Shakil fled to the war-torn region in October 2014 after telling her family she was going on holiday to Turkey.
She was found guilty of terror offences at Birmingham Crown Court today, becoming the first British woman to be convicted after returning from the extremist heartland.
The court heard the 26-year-old, who used to live in Burton upon Trent in Staffordshire and adored watching The Only Way is Essex, posed her boy for pictures wearing an ISIS-branded balaclava before returning home claiming she'd 'made a mistake'.
During a two-week trial at Birmingham Crown Court, Shakil had denied the charges, claiming she only travelled to Syria because of a wish to live under the rule of sharia law.
However, the jury did not believe her account after seeing tweets, messages and photographs, including images of the black flag of ISIS and passages calling on people to 'take up arms', and stating her wish to become a 'martyr'.
She was found guilty of being a member of ISIS and encouraging acts of terror, becoming the first British woman to be convicted after return from the terror heartland.
Judge Melbourne Inman QC told Shakil - who looked stunned by the verdicts - that she would be sentenced on Monday.
The Recorder of Birmingham said: 'You may go down and be remanded in custody until Monday's sentence.'
Shakil initially told police that she was kidnapped from a beach by a man she met on holiday in Turkey, taken to Syria and forced to send out propaganda Tweets for the organisation.
Shakil sent photographs of her son in Syria, including one image showing him sitting next to an AK-47 machinegun. The caption of the picture describes him as 'Abu Jihad al-Britani'
The 26-year-old also posed with her son wearing a black balaclava bearing the slogan of ISIS
But in court she admitted she had been in an abusive relationship with the boy's father and was seeking to start a new life.
Detectives believe she was married off to an ISIS fighter as a jihadi bride and that the marriage went sour within weeks.
Shakil, pictured at East Midlands Airport with her toddler before they boarded a flight to Turkey en route to Syria
In a conversation with her father on WhatsApp, in mid-December 2014 while living under ISIS rule, she told him: 'I want to die here as a martyr.'
She later claimed these messages were sent under duress by female ISIS minders.
Jurors heard that before going to Syria, Shakil had chatted online with 'prominent IS member' Fabio Pocas.
She was also in touch with Sally Ann Jones, the British widow of Birmingham jihadi Junaid Hussain who was killed in a drone strike in Syria last year.
There were further signs of growing radicalisation, including searches for videos of Anwar al Awlaki, an al-Qaeda-linked extremist who was killed in a US drone strike in Yemen in 2011.
The 26-year-old also changed the status of her Facebook page - emblazoned with the black flag of ISIS - to read: 'If you don't like the current events in Sham (Syria) take to arms and not the keyboard.'
After going to Turkey, she secretly fled across the border into Syria, where she was later taken to Raqqa, the de facto ISIS capital.
Photographs of her in a flat in the city, suggest she had gone through a marriage ceremony and been allowed to move out of the house where single women without male guardians are forced to live in Raqqa.
Explaining her reason for wanting to return home, Shakil complained that the rules in the women's house were too strict and she had her mobile phone taken off her.
Shakil told Birmingham Crown Court: 'Your phone was taken off you and there was this evil Saudi woman' who ran the house for single women, known as a maqqa.
Shakil in her police interview. She claimed she was kidnapped but later admitted wanting to start a new life
A blurred photo posted online by Shakil shows an unidentified woman wielding a Kalashnikov rifle
Shakil listed the rules: 'No phones, no ipads - if you get caught there are big problems – rules if you are not Syrian and not married, how she expected you to act, taking turns cooking and cleaning and womanly duties.'
In a message discovered on her phone, she advised another single woman thinking of joining ISIS: 'I'm married ukhti [sister]. Life is hard 4 single sisters, too many sisters run. Please don't come alone, u have to be married here ukhti. Trust me, u r young, look after ur parents and tell all single sisters, I said don't come alone.'
Speaking after the verdict, Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale, who leads on counter-terrorism across the West Midlands, said: 'Tareena Shakil had self-radicalised by viewing extremist material on the internet, before leaving the UK in October 2014.
'Our assessment is that she was not naive; she had absolutely clear intentions when she left the UK, sending tweets encouraging the public to commit acts of terrorism here and then taking her young child to join Daesh in Syria.'
Assistant Chief Constable Beale added: 'Photographs seized from her phone showed Ms Shakil posing with a firearm and wearing a Daesh balaclava. Another showed a rucksack with a Daesh logo and person holding a handgun. These were taken while she was in Syria.
'Ms Shakil had already incited others to commit terrorist acts on social media and having spent months living under Daesh, she no doubt presented a real threat on her return to the UK from the country early last year.
'Thanks to proactive counter-terrorism policing, we were able to intercept Shakil at the airport and put the necessary measures in place to protect her child from their mother's extremist ideology.'
Photos shown to the jury showed Shakil posing in an ISIS balaclava and with a Kalashnikov rifle
Shakil's Facebook page under the name Tameena al Amirah where she started posting extremist messages
'YOU ARE HANGING OVER THE GATES OF HELL': TAREENA SHAKIL'S TROUBLED ROUTE TO RADICAL ISLAM
Trial of runaway mother hears she is one of about SIXTY British women who have gone to join ISIS
The jury which convicted Tareena Shakil of travelling with her child to join ISIS was told that about 60 British females were thought to have gone to Syria.
During her trial at Birmingham Crown Court, Dr Florence Gaub an expert on the subject of conflicts in the Arab world estimated the latest figure for the number of British women who have joined the brutal terror group.
Dr Gaub said evidence suggested the total number of women from Europe, North America and Australia who had gone to the self-declared caliphate was about 600.
A senior analyst for the European Union Institute for Security Studies, Dr Gaub said it was thought that about 5,000 Western 'foreign fighters' - a number including women, although they cannot bear arms for IS - were now in Syria.
That figure makes up roughly a quarter of the 40,000-strong military force which IS was estimated to have, based on data from summer 2014.
She added that half of that figure were classed as foreign fighters, those who were neither Syrian nor Iraqi, and included those who had come from countries like Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.
Dr Gaub said all of the information had come from sources including Western military and domestic intelligence services data, and analysis of other sources like media reporting.
Turning to the subject of defections from ISIS, she said somewhere between a third and a half had left to either return home or depart ISIS-occupied territory.
She said: 'Between 1,500 and 2,500 individuals from the European Union, UK and North America are said to have left ISIS territory.'
She added the number of women defectors was thought to be between 80 or 90.
Separately, the Government has estimated 800 Britons have gone into Syria in the past four years, with half still believed to be in the country.
Speaking on a visit to Turkey earlier in January, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the security services had stopped 600 British nationals from entering the war-torn Middle Eastern state trying to join ISIS and other jihadists.
Mr Hammond said an estimated 800 UK citizens had entered Syria in the past four years, with around half thought to still be in the country.