LONDON (Reuters) - A British mother who took her 14-month-old son to Syria to join Islamic State fighters and allowed him to be photographed wearing a balaclava next to an assault rifle, was jailed for six years on Monday.
Tareena Shakil, 26, left Britain in October 2014 and journeyed to the militant group’s stronghold of Raqqa with the toddler, despite describing the Syrian city as the most dangerous place on earth, Birmingham Crown Court was told.
She was convicted last Friday of being a member of Islamic State (IS) and encouraging terrorism on social media. She is believed to be the first woman to have gone on trial accused of joining the militants, media reports said.
Sentencing her to six years in prison, Judge Melbourne Inman said she had told lie after lie about her actions.
“The most abhorrent photographs ... were those taken of your son wearing a balaclava with an ISIS logo and specifically the photograph of your son, no more than a toddler, standing next to an AK-47 under a title which translated from the Arabic means ‘Father of the British Jihad,'” Inman said.
The court heard she had published statements and pictures on Twitter in support of IS. A photograph uncovered by police showed her posing in Syria underneath an IS flag.
Police said it was not known why she left Syria in January 2015. She was arrested by counter-terrorism officers when she returned to Britain on Feb. 18 after landing at Heathrow Airport and her son was taken into care.
“However unclear the true picture is, I will assume in your favour that you decided to leave because you had a change of heart,” Inman said.
“That mitigation is very limited however because you pleaded not guilty and having seen you give evidence I saw no evidence of remorse about what you had done or done to your son.”
Security services estimate up to 800 people have travelled to Iraq and Syria, many to join Islamic State, and about half have returned home.
Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Stephen Addison