- The man accused of trying to fight for IS was allowed to fly out of Britain
- Quizzed by officers as he prepared to board plane from Gatwick to Turkey
- He said he wanted to meet dates in Istanbul after chatting on Match.com
A terror suspect accused of trying to fight for IS in Syria was allowed to fly out of Britain after telling police he was visiting women he had met on a dating website.
The British Muslim was quizzed by officers for ten minutes under the Terrorism Act as he prepared to board a plane from Gatwick to Turkey in January.
But they are said to have let him go after he insisted he simply wanted to meet potential dates in Istanbul after chatting to them on Match.com.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, allegedly claimed he had paid for a five-night stay in a hotel there.
But the court was told that just three days later he was picked up by Turkish authorities at a Syrian border post and flown back to the UK.
The man, who is in his twenties, allegedly stayed only one night at the hotel before boarding a one-way domestic flight to Gaziantep airport, which is the closest to Turkey’s border with Syria.
Turkish officials detained him at the Oncupinar border crossing before sending him back to the UK, five days after he had left, to be arrested on arrival at Heathrow.
He was charged with attempting to travel to Syria to commit acts of terrorism, contrary to Section 5 of the Terrorism Act.
The man, from east London, faces life in prison if convicted.
According to legal documents, the man did have a dating profile with Match.com, but it does not offer services in Turkey, and he had not paid a subscription fee that would give him access to the profiles of women members and let him chat to them.
The court documents state: ‘When questioned, he informed the officer that Istanbul was his final destination and he was travelling there to meet women he had met through the website Match.com.
‘Match.com confirmed that the account, which was in his name, was opened on December 28, 2014, and the account was last visited that day.
‘He did not pay a subscription fee so he would not have been able to contact anybody directly.
‘Match.com has also confirmed that they do not offer their services in Turkey.
‘After questioning was concluded, he was allowed to board the flight.’
During the case at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in central London last week, the man would not leave his cell, citing his religious beliefs.
After his refusal to appear in front of the magistrates, Prosecutor Kathryn Selby, from the counter-terrorism division of the Crown Prosecution Service, asked the court to let the hearing take place in his absence.
The defendant did not apply for bail and the court transferred the case to the Old Bailey.
Some 850 people from the UK have travelled to support or fight for jihadist organisations in Syria and Iraq, according to British officials.
At least 67 of these jihadists have died fighting there, while about half have returned to the UK.