Jailed: Dad who planned to join ‘holy war’ in Syria

Mohammed Kahar
Mohammed Kahar

A married dad who was preparing to leave the UK and fight alongside the Islamic State in Syria has been jailed for five years.

Mohammed Abdul Kahar led a "normal life" to outward appearances but harboured a desire to engage and convince others to join in 'holy war'.

The 37-year-old Muslim, who lived in a terraced street in Sunderland, worked as a chef and had local business interests, had already been in touch with a travel agent to inquire about prices for the trip.

Using a variety of social media applications and a selection of different aliases, Kahar promoted the banned terror group Islamic State and vowed to fund those already engaged in fighting.

Related story: How Sunderland dad used social media to share terrorist ideology

During a trial at Newcastle Crown Court Kahar claimed his online activities were nothing more than religious research and said he did not believe in violence.

He admitted watching beheading videos to find out "how do they justify it" and said he promoted IS material to attract the terror group's supporters so he could engage them in conversation.

Kahar told jurors: "I know how it looks but this is not who I am."

After deliberating for more than eight hours, jurors rejected his explanations and found him guilty of ten out of the 11 offences he faced.

Mrs Justice Andrews told him: "You have been found guilty of intending to go to fight for Islamic State in Syria and making steps in preparation for that.

"You bought into the propaganda about Jihad, absolutely."

The judge said Kahar had shown an interest in Islamic State since 2013 and had convinced himself that going to fight was the radical interpretation of Islam.

She added: "I think he bought in completely to the ideology and thought there was a genuine obligation to go there."

The judge said she could not rule out the possibility that Kahar would get "cold feet" on the front line but said his persistent bombardment of friends and family with the information was troubling.

Kahar must abide by an order to inform the authorities of his whereabouts for 15 years.

The judge said the police should be publicly commended for their investigation into the case and tireless work of trawling though Internet pages and documents.

The court heard it was only when his wife got pregnant with their sixth child Kahar put his plans to join the terror group on hold.

Kahar, of Burnville Road in the city, had considered going to Syria both with and without his children and boasted "the government pays" when asked by online contacts who would support his family if he went alone.

He had made in depth inquiries about transport links via Turkey and questioned the use of taxis, buses and planes.

Prosecutor Anne Whyte QC told the court: "This man wanted to go and prepared to go to Syria. He used the internet to invite others to support IS and to do the same thing.

"It is clear his wife's sixth pregnancy had rather disrupted his intentions in this regard.

"He didn't feel as if he could leave when she was pregnant or shortly after the birth of his child."

Kahar was convicted of ten terrorism offences including preparation of terrorist acts, funding arrangement, support for a proscribed organisation, and dissemination of terrorist publications.

He was cleared of a single charge of collection of information in relation to a document on explosives.

Miss Whyte told jurors there is no suggestion Kahar, who had a document on how to prepare explosives among his collection, would have committed terrorist acts in the UK.

She added: "He is accused of collecting and disseminating terrorist publications, of entering into an arrangement to fund another for a terrorist purpose and of preparing to travel to Syria in order to in order to join IS and commit acts of terrorism there by fighting alongside the self-styled IS."

Kahar was arrested when his home was raided on March 4 and his IPhone and IPad were seized, both of which contained a significant number of documents in relation to violent Jihad (holy war) and Islamic State.

His phone contained a total of 56 documents and evidence of his conversations over Facebook, Whatsapp, KIK Messenger, Surespot messenger and Telegram messenger.

He used social media and email to send pictures, videos, songs, documents and pages.

His internet search history and bookmarks included subjects such as captured journalists, links to the IS generated magazine, IS material and Jihadist material.

He had also accessed and shared IS recruitment videos, one of which has been played in court.

Kahar said during one internet posting "Support IS, support me otherwise you are not a true Muslim."

During on-line discussions, including some with his own nephew, he branded those who refused to back IS "coconut Muslims" and encouraged support for the outlawed terror group.

He said during one discussion: "They don't kill innocent people they kill apostates munafiqs they give chance become Muslim or pay jizya or face the sword simple as, and everything else is a lie".

Kahar told one online user: "Believe what you want when IS take control of the world then u will be on your own."

And he told his own brother on WhatsApp: "Look after my family when I'm gone".

Kahar told detectives some of his discussions were jokes and some were just for debate.

Miss Whyte added: "This type of dialogue is self-evident. It is not the conduct of a modern Muslim agonising over the interpretation of his faith.

"It is the conduct of a modern Muslim seeking out assistance and guidance about getting to the front line with IS."