Three Islamists have been jailed for helping a young jihadist flee to Syria from Cardiff to join his older brother, who was Jihadi John's right-hand man. The trial was shown a farcical video filmed on a Welsh hillside and shown flirty texts between the teen and one of the recruiters, in which they called each other "honey" and "cutie". In one message, the older man signed off: "Radicalise me babe."
The three men, Forhad Rahman from Cirencester, Gloucestershire, Adeel Ulhaq from Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, and Cardiff convert Kristen Brekke, were all found guilty of helping Aseel Muthana get to Syria in February 2014 when he was 17-years-old. He has not been heard from since. His older brother is Nasser Muthana, seen in several Islamic State (Isis) videos – including one in which he beheaded a Syrian soldier as he stands next to "Jihadi John."
The court was shown a video reminiscent of the Chris Morris spoof "Four Lions" in which Aseel Muthana and Brekke filmed themselves on a hill above Cardiff, brandishing fake guns and singing the theme to "Rocky". At one point they point to smoke rising from a factory and imagine it's a checkpoint they've just blown up. Muthana says: "Are you depressed? Are you stressed? Do you have no friends? Then come join us at Cardiff Hill, aka Asda Hill [so-called because it is close to a branch of the supermarket]. This is the fake jihadi life."
Prosecutor Christopher Hehir said: "While these clips may have the air of the film "Four Lions" about them, it concerned an inept group of British would-be Jihadis, there is a serious side to what we have just watched. Aseel Muthana was making it abundantly clear that he wanted to go to Syria and fight."
Muthana and Brekke had met when working at an ice cream parlour. Brekke bought the younger man combat clothing and allowed him to use his computer. Brekke was jailed for four-and-a-half years for the preparation of terrorist acts. Although Muthana never met Ulhaq, the latter introduced him to Syrian contacts and was jailed for six years for the preparation of terror acts.
However it was Muthanas's relationship with Rahman that was the subject of controversy, its homoerotic element leading to arguments it should not be revealed in case it placed Muthana in danger in Syria where IS (Daesh) often throw gay people from rooftops. However the friendship was allowed to be made public, including affectionate texts and Skype conversations.
Prosecutor Daniel Pawson-Pounds said the chats revealed "an emotional closeness between Rahman and Muthana. There can be no doubt that these young men rapidly became close friends who expressed themselves to each other in affectionate terms." Rahman was jailed for five years for the preparation of terrorist acts.