UK Sentences Returning Jihadist to 12 Years

Imran Khawaja was a key member of Rayat al–Tawheed (RaT), a group of British recruits who went to fight the Assad regime in Syria. Known as Abu Daigham al Baritani or Abu Daigham al-Britani, he faked his own death and tried to sneak back into the UK, but was caught.

Today he was sentenced to 12 years in prison and 5 years of supervision. (He will have to serve about 8 years.) [More...]

Rayat al-Tawheed was associated with ISIS for a while but not a part of it. It is affiliated with Jund Al Aqsa and denies any current association with ISIS.) The British recruits received training in Syria, but mostly worked in the media department producing slick videos and graphics. Here is Jund al Aqsa's Twitter Page.

Khawaja was photographed in Syria holding the severed head of a Syrian soldier. The former bodybuilder was reportedly very violent. According to the prosecutor:

"Photos and videos of Khawaja posing with child soldiers and severed heads defy the understanding of civilised people and paint a picture of a man who would stop at nothing to spread terror and hatred.

"It is clear from the evidence that he went to Syria to train and to fight, and was close to, if not directly in, a combat zone."

Why did he get 12 years? According to some RaT members on Twitter, he cooperated and gave up names and contact information for other fighters, which earned him a lesser sentence. Two of his associates who helped him return to the UK were also sentenced:

His cousin, Tahir Bhatti, from Watford in Hertfordshire was jailed for 21 months. He will serve half of his sentence. Bhatti had driven to Serbia to collect Khawaja and bring him back to the UK. Asim Ali, from Ealing in west London - who provided his friend Khawaja with funds - was also given 21 months in prison.

Journalist Tam Hussein says he received this response from one of his fellow fighters still in Syria:

The Daily Mail reported he was questioned about Jihadi John.

Here is one photo of him:

Here is a photo of the British RaT fighters from September, 2014:

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