Ahmedeltigani Alsyed, 20, planned to go to Syria to fight with ISIS but was too scared to get hit with a paintball while training in Surrey
A wannabe ISIS fighter who plotted to wage jihad in the Middle East has told a court an afternoon’s paintballing in Surrey left him ‘terrified’.
Ahmedeltigani Alsyed, 20, conspired in a secret communication channel to fight alongside terror groups in Syria, while building his strength at a gym and attending the team shooting event as training, prosecutors claim.
However, the Sudan-born extremist, who said ‘I just want to do martyrdom operations’ in a Telegram message chat, told Woolwich Crown Court that the afternoon out frightened him.
The defendant, from Hounslow, west London, pleaded guilty in January to engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorist acts between November 25 2016 and February 20 2017.
He was also convicted of disseminating terrorist material, including execution videos and bomb-making guides, and possessing information likely to be useful to a person committing or planning acts of terrorism.
His brother Yousif Alsyed, 18, pleaded guilty to preparing terrorist acts and disseminating a terrorist publication, but will face sentencing at a later date.
Prosecutor Eleanor Darlow QC told his sentencing hearing in her opening: ‘The brothers had a shared aspiration to travel to Syria to join and fight with fundamentalist jihadi groups and, ultimately, to die fighting in the belief that in death they would achieve martyrdom.’
Judge Andrew Lees said he would sentence Ahmedeltigani on Wednesday.
Earlier, Ms Darlow QC said the brothers had joined their cousins for a paintballing session at Blind Fire paintball facility in Surrey on September 3 2016.
Yousif Alsyed had earlier pleaded guilty to preparing terror acts. The two brothers had been part of a secret Telegram group called ‘Peace’, involving Muhammad Ali, 18, right, who was jailed in January along with a 17-year-old boy for attempting to join ISIS
The prosecution said the paintballing event formed part of the defendant’s training.
A short video of the day out was played to the court, showing the older brother playing up to the camera.
Dressed entirely in camouflage, he raises one finger – mimicking a pose struck by ISIS fighters – and says: ‘This is a message to everyone; if we do not come back safe and sound, look after our families, that’s all.’
Challenged about the video during a Newton Hearing on the paintballing incident, the defendant said: ‘I was joking.
‘Obviously there were men holding big guns and the night before we watched videos of people screaming and crying (during paintballing) and I was terrified.’
He added: ‘I was terrified – I was hiding the whole match as well, I didn’t want to be hit.’
Ms Darlow asked: ‘We know you were watching very, very, very violent imagery – men being murdered, men having their heads cut off, men being blow in two by bombs – when you tell his honour you were frightened by big guns in paintballing, are you being truthful?’
He insisted he was and that he had also found the videos of beheadings and bombings frightening, too.
Asked why he watched them, the defendant said: ‘I don’t know, to be honest.’
John Cooper, defending, said during mitigation that Ahmedeltigan had ‘low intelligence’ with an IQ of 70, was ‘susceptible and impressionable’ and, according to a psychiatric assessment, was ‘thrill-seeking’ when he toyed with travelling to Syria.
‘He expresses remorse for his offending behaviour and doesn’t consider himself a terrorist,’ he added.
Their plan was foiled when the younger brother was referred to police by his school in 2016 and further action was taken by Prevent.
They had been part of a secret Telegram chat group called Peace with two teenagers, Mohammed Ali, 18, and another 17-year-old who were both jailed in January for attempting to join ISIS in Syria.
A search warrant was executed on the Alsyed brothers’ address and their phones were seized, with the pair both arrested in a further raid six days later.
A trove of incriminating evidence was found on the devices, including contact on Yousif’s phone with a facilitator for ISIS in Yemen.
One message sent by Ahmedeltigani said: ‘I want to be istshadi (a martyr) I want every bit in my body to be destroyed.’