- Mohammed Yamin, 25, appeared in recruitment videos shot in the Middle East
- Was arrested after police saw him acting suspiciously by a memorial in Whitehall
- Officers linked him to footage from the Idlib region of Syria on October 17, 2013
A civil engineering student is facing jail after admitting flying to Syria and spending nearly a year with a banned al-Qaeda group.
Mohammed Yamin, 25, from Clapton, East London, appeared in recruitment videos shot in the Middle East and was stopped on his way back into Britain five years ago but only arrested when he was reported acting suspiciously in Whitehall.
His case demonstrates the danger posed by a cohort of Syrian 'returners' estimated by the security services to number around 360, of whom just nine have been prosecuted for terrorism offences.
Yamin had previously been arrested as part of Operation Absorbable, an investigation into Jafar Turay, a Muslim convert and former rapper from Wembley, North London, who flew out of Britain the day after allegedly stabbing a man in a shop in a gangland revenge attack.
Yamin purchased equipment and clothing, and travelled to Syria on a one-way ticket on July 10, 2013, where he joined Turay, who had got there through Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Yamin had been studying for a degree in civil engineering at City University but failed to turn up for the beginning of his second year in October 2014.
He spent nearly a year with al-Qaeda's franchise in Syria, then called Jabhat al-Nusra, and appeared in a documentary warning 'normal folk' in Britain would 'take the blame for the crimes that are committed worldwide by Britain'.
Details of the case can be reported after Yamin pleaded guilty last week to preparing acts of terrorism by travelling to Syria and membership of a proscribed organisation. He denied possessing a gun for terrorist purposes and the charge will lie on file.
Yamin first travelled to Syria on May 24, 2013, via Eurotunnel, as part of a charity aid convoy, returning on July 1 on a flight from Istanbul to London Heathrow.
Over the next nine days, Yamin emptied his bank accounts and used Amazon to buy a Mil-Com black cotton balaclava; a Kombat tactical leg holster, an Infantry Desert Camo army assault backpack, professional plastic security police handcuffs; a utility knife; a trauma bandage; and a camouflage sleeping bag.
On July 10, Yamin left from Heathrow on a flight to Bucharest, Romania, and three days later he was issued with a speeding ticket on the road from Ankara to Aksaray in Turkey.
In a message to his sister, Yamin said he was on the Turkish - Syrian border and later he asked his family to send him money to buy warm clothing for the winter.
He arrived back at Heathrow on a flight from Athens on May 31, 2014 when he was arrested on suspicion of delivering clothing to Turay in Syria but he was not charged.
Three years later, on June 21 2017, police officers were alerted to a man acting suspiciously behind a memorial called Women at War on Whitehall and found Yamin who had been filming on his mobile phone.
He claimed he was standing next to the memorial to 'be in the shade' and initially claimed he was a tourist and then said he was a student.
The encounter was recorded on a police officer's body worn camera and police were able to established a link between Yamin and a Vice News film clip which had been posted on YouTube.
The Vice footage had been filmed in Atmeh, in the Idlib region of Syria on October 17, 2013 and featured Yamin, wearing combat clothing and holding a rifle with other members of his group who had pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda.
He addressed the 'people of Britain' saying: 'Britain the government are doing crimes and you're taking the blame. You are the people in this society and you can take control.
In a reference to Michael Adebolajo, who had had addressed a camera after killing Fusilier Lee Rigby outside Woolwich Barracks five months earlier, he threatened: 'So please, like the guy in Woolwich - he explained that David Cameron will never walk on the street and he will never get shot in the face - whereas you guys who are soldiers or just normal folk, who will take the blame for the crimes that are committed worldwide by Britain itself.'
Yamin mentioned the historic Muslim Caliphate and added: 'Our job as al-Qaeda, we just want to bring that back, and I know there is no dialogue that will be fit enough to do this peacefully, so we have to fight, it's part of our obligation in Islam, to protect our honour, to protect our women.'
He ended up mumbling, 'I've finished' and the filming stopped.