An alleged British Islamic State (Isis) terrorist has contacted his local newspaper in Walsall claiming that he is not a terrorist and is working as a teacher in Turkey so UK authorities should free his wife. Sajid Aslam's wife, Lorna Moore from Walsall, was convicted of concealing information about his terror plans to join the extremists at the Old Bailey in February this year.
Moore, a trainee maths teacher and mother-of-three, originally from County Tyrone, is one of a number of British Muslims from the West Midlands town accused of intending to travel to the self-declared Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
The 34-year-old converted to Islam after meeting Aslam in 2000 at Manchester University and faces a jail sentence of up to five years. Moore was found guilty of failing to disclose information about acts of terrorism.
According to the Terrorism Act 2000, it is an offence to fail to disclose information to the police which a person knows or believes might be of "material assistance in preventing an act of terrorism". Speaking after she was found guilty, West Midlands Police's Assistant Chief Constable Marcus Beale said in the Daily Mail the case showed that Moore was "just as criminal and just as dangerous" as her husband.
He said: "IS is a really dangerous organisation and the criminal courts will be interested in hearing those cases. Another important part of this case is where you have got people who have knowledge of travel and the intent when they get there who have not come forward, and that's committing a crime. If they are helping IS, then that's a danger to the UK". Moore remains on conditional bail with no date set for her sentencing.
Aslam is believed to have headed to the Middle East to live under Daesh (Isis) rule with a network of other Brits, including three women. The 34-year-old supply teacher is said to have been driven to the airport by another man, Ayman Shaukat in August 2014, as Moore took their children to Butlins Holiday Park in Skegness. Shaukat is believed to have helped up to a dozen people head to Syria. On arrival to Syria, Aslam is alleged to have sent back a video link to Shaukat with a song called Made It by Cash Money Heroes.
But Aslam has now contacted the Express & Star insisting he is not a terrorist and that he is a teacher in south-eastern Turkey, teaching child refugees near the Syrian border. In an email sent to the newspaper, he included a picture of him playing the Call of Duty computer game saying: "This is the nearest I've come to firing a gun."
In the message, he refuses to return to the UK to clear his and his wife's names, saying that security forces will use torture techniques on him. Aslam affirms he told intelligence services he wants to return to the UK but they had not acknowledged his correspondence.
The Old Bailey heard how Aslam flew from Stansted Airport to Istanbul and then onto the border town of Gaziantep. He is alleged to have met two friends from Walsall in order to cross into IS-held territory.
The crown alleged Moore was indeed planning to head to Syria and booked flights to Palma, Majorca, but her real destination was revealed in a text from another jihadi's wife in Turkey saying, "see you there". Moore denied this in court and that she would "never" put her children's lives in danger in this way.
In the email, Aslam said: "I hope my message reaching the public domain would pressure the authorities to respond to my attempts to contact them, and that I would be given the opportunity to return to Britain to prove my innocence and my wife's innocence – reversing the terrible suspicions, accusations, and terrible miscarriages of justice which have been inflicted upon us."
Counter terrorism police said they found a will he left which predicted his death from airstrikes or in armed combat. But Aslam says the area he is teaching is close to the Syrian border. He added that he is "proud to be British".
The court heard how Muslim-convert Moore, who was born a protestant, had married Aslam after meeting him at Manchester University. She denied the charge and told the court that she had suffered psychological abuse from her husband and had sought a divorce.
Jake Petty, 25, also known as Abu Yaqoob al-Britany, was the first British Muslim to join IS from the Walsall network – he is believed to have been killed in December 2014. Shaukat, 27, was convicted on 24 February for his role in helping Aslam and another man, Muslim-convert Alex Nash, 22, travel to the war zone.
Petty's former school friend Isaiah Siadatan, 24, also travelled to join IS. Siadatan is thought to have been killed in 2015, although his death remains unconfirmed.