Two women have been convicted of terrorism offences relating to Syria amid fears females are not doing enough to fight extremism.
The West Midlands Counter Terrorism has called upon women to lead the fight against terrorism after 22-year-old Angela Shafiq, of Orchid Gardens, Hounslow, west London, was found guilty of trying to radicalise a young Briton she had never met to join Islamist fighters in Syria.
Over five months between December 2012 and May 2013, Shafiq used Skype to try to recruit Mohammed Nahin Ahmed, also, 22 to become a "martyr for Allah". She was arrested in June 2014 by detectives investigating Ahmed and his friend Yusuf Sarwar, who travelled to Syria to join rebel forces.
During their investigations, police found conversations between Ahmed and Shafiq through online videos, instant messaging services and Skype. Shafiq had formed an online relationship with Ahmed over a period of months during which she both encouraged and assisted him in his preparations to travel to Syria.
The pair had never met in person yet she praised him for being an individual who was prepared to act and not just talk about his plans.
An Old Bailey jury today (31 July) found Shafiq guilty of engaging in conduct in preparation for terrorist acts. Following the verdict, Shafiq was remanded into custody – she is due to be sentenced on 8 September.
Jamila Henry sentenced
In a separate case on the same day, Jamila Henry, 22, of Walthamstow, east London, was sentenced to 12 months in prison suspended for two years for using a relative's passport when trying to get to the Syrian border.
She was detained in Ankara, Turkey, by Turkish authorities on 16 March while en route to the Syrian border. The would-be Syria runaway was deported from Turkey three days later to Luton Airport where she was arrested.
Commenting on Shafiq's conviction, detective chief superintendent Sue Southern of the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit said: "Our experiences show us that mothers and sisters are often the first to notice changes in the behaviour of their loved ones, be they sons, daughters, siblings or friends.
"In this case, it was apparent that her mother was aware of her online relationship with Ahmed and disapproved – this disapproval may have unwittingly prevented Shafiq from seeking to travel.
"Shafiq offered advice to Ahmed on how he could obtain a first aid certificate as a cover to go into Syria unchecked as an aid worker. This, along with her encouragement and support of his ideology to join an Islamist rebel group, were conversations which crossed the bar into a criminal offence."
The Met's Richard Walton, head of Counter Terrorism Command, said of the issue: "We continue to be concerned about the number of Muslim women and girls who are currently being enticed to Syria. Those that travel, risk being sexually assaulted or enslaved by the terrorist group Islamic State."