Jihadist who faked death admits terror offences

Imran Khawaja

A jihadist who faked his death so that he could return to the UK undetected has admitted four terrorism offences.

Imran Khawaja, 27, from west London, admitted preparing for acts of terrorism, attending a camp, receiving training and possessing firearms in a hearing last year.

The case has only become reportable after his cousin admitted assisting his return from Syria to the UK.

Khawaja spent six months in Syria alongside jihadist fighters last year.

He received firearms training at a base run by associates of British jihadis affiliated to the ISIS, and is believed to have entered the warzone after buying a flight to Kurdistan on January 26 last year.

Khawaja, known as Abu Daigham al Baritani or Abu Daigham al-Britani, was reported as being killed in action on June 3 by the group Rayat al-Tawheed.

Police say that his group were involved in major propaganda drives to attract other recruits – and they were also involved in serious violence.

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In one image, Khawaja is seen holding a severed head taken out of a bag – although he masked his face to try to avoid detection.

Prosecutor Mark Dawson told Westminster Magistrates Court at an earlier hearing: “We say he is a senior member of that group because that group publishes media on things like Facebook and within that media are videos of members of that group in a training camp for example, driving in a convoy in military vehicles with anti-aircraft weapons and heavy machine-guns.

“There is one video demonstrating the finding of severed heads on the battlefield and decapitated heads. We say Mr Khawaja is Abu Daigham al-Britani and has appeared in many of those videos.”

Khawaja, who joined other Britons in the conflict, posted a message online last June suggesting he had been killed in battle.

His cousin, Tahir Bhatti, 44, from Watford, drove him back home and the pair were arrested at Dover.

Khawaja originally faced a further charge of soliciting to murder – but that is now to lie on file, the Old Bailey has heard.

Khawaja and Bhatti will be sentenced at a later date. Khawaja faces a possible prison term up to life imprisonment.

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