Coventry Man Wanted To Be A 'Martyr', Jury Told

18 May 2015, 15:08 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

A young Muslim from Coventry repeatedly tried to join Islamic State in Syria to fulfil his ambition to become a martyr because ``there's no life without Jihad'', a court heard.

Zakariya Ashiq, 20, left the UK on November 6 last year on a bus from Victoria Station in London, his Old Bailey trial heard.

He travelled across Europe via Bulgaria and on to Jordan, but returned to Britain after failing to cross the border into the war-torn country.

As he got off a flight at Heathrow airport on November 20, he was arrested by police, who seized his computer and mobile phone, the Old Bailey heard.

An examination of his phone revealed recorded WhatsApp conversations with two friends who had allegedly gone to Syria earlier last year.

In them, Ashiq described to Ali Kalantar and Mohammed Ismail hitch-hiking and sleeping in mosques during his journey across Europe.

He appealed to them for help to get into Syria, saying the second he got the chance he would do ``Ishtishadi (martyrdom) against any ... all these people'', the jury was told.

In one message, he pleaded: ``Oh, seriously man, just get me there, man ... I don't know how you gonna get me, but you have to get me across.''

Ashiq's extremist sympathies were also exposed in WhatsApp messages read out to the jury. In one he wrote: ``There is no life, there's no life without Jihad.''

He also allegedly spoke of his admiration for Islamic State using the online website Chat Roulette, the court heard.

He allegedly searched on his computer for phrases such as ``IS beheading journalist'' and ``44 ways to support Jihad'' and Islamic preacher Anjem Choudary, the court heard.

Prosecutor Sarah Whitehouse QC chronicled Ashiq's various alleged attempts to join IS during the course of last year as she opened the case.

Ashiq set off with his father in March last year just a few days after Kalantar and Ismail flew out to Istanbul via Frankfurt.

When the pair were stopped at Birmingham Airport, Ashiq said he was planning to travel to Turkey and to visit refugee camps on the Syrian border, but was not planning to cross over into the country.

The pair got a flight the following day but during the trip they fell out and Ashiq went home on May 20, jurors were told.

Then, on July 11, he tried to go abroad again but missed his flight because he was talking to police.

He told officers he was intending to go to Corfu and had not time for terrorists or their beliefs.

After his arrest at Heathrow Airport on November 20, Ashiq said he had no aspirations to join IS or become a terrorist, describing Ismail as ``an idiot''.

He told officers that any communications suggesting he supported IS were to ``wind people up''.

When presented with the WhatsApp recordings, he said he was running away to protect himself from ``you guys'', saying he wanted to practice his religion without fear of torture.

Ashiq, of Station Road, Coventry, denies two counts of preparation of terrorist acts on or before November 6 last year.

The trial continues.