UK court sentences 'Jihadi Hipster' to life in prison

London: After three years of fighting in Syria for Daesh, a British man was sentenced to prison.

Before going missing in Turkiye in 2014 while on a family vacation, Shabazz Suleman, a student from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, had just finished high school and been accepted onto a course to study at Keele University. He had been a promising student in the UK.

He was detained by Turkish authorities as he attempted to enter Syria before being traded with Daesh as part of a prisoner exchange for two Turkish diplomats.

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Suleman, who was 18 at the time, identified as the "Jihadi Hipster," according to his Twitter profile. He took on the name Abu Shamil Al-Britani and claimed that after a year, he had grown "disillusioned" with life under Daesh because it was targeting other Muslims and using its fighters as "cannon fodder."

He was imprisoned by the group in Raqqa ten months into his stay because he refused to fight. He was eventually freed after deciding to join Amniyat, Daesh's security division.

In October 2017, forces backed by Turkey once more captured Suleman, who then went to Pakistan. In 2021, he returned to the UK and was imprisoned there.

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Suleman was given a life sentence with a minimum of nine and a half years after entering a guilty plea to planning terrorist acts in April.


Judge Mark Lucraft KC stated that despite the defendant's testimony that he spent the majority of his time with Amniyat playing video games, he must have known he was "supporting a terrorist organisation that engaged in indiscriminate violence against civilians."

The court heard testimony that after travelling to Syria in 2013 to deliver aid, he told a friend he wanted to "go deeper where it's more dangerous," and that local police had visited him after learning of his trip there.

On Twitter in 2015, he expressed his joy over the murder of journalists at the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo, described his life as a member of Daesh, and posted a photo of an alleged spy who had been beheaded and crucified by the organisation. He stated that he wanted to "behead some Americans" in another message.

Suleman told his family, "I'm doing this for Allah, no one else," after going missing while on vacation. I have not been brainwashed in any way. This has been in my plans for months.

He admitted to being "brainwashed" and "disillusioned" to reporters at The Times in 2015, adding: "I found myself falling for the propaganda of (Daesh)." I eventually lost track of who I was.

In response to his 2017 capture, he said to Sky News: "I take responsibility. I was a member of (Daesh), a terrorist group. I hope I didn't oppress anyone, but I didn't kill anyone. I did wear a military uniform and a Kalashnikov, but I didn't strike anyone.

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It is evident from the evidence that the defendant fully understood before leaving that he would be joining and supporting a terrorist group that engaged in indiscriminate violence against civilians, according to prosecutor Duncan Atkinson KC.

He received a warning not to go because of the danger and was informed that, as a citizen of the UK, his life was in danger. Thus, he was well aware before leaving home of how harshly Daesh would treat foreigners who did not support it, especially non-believers

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