UK science teacher admits trying to help Syria rebels

Teacher Jamshed Javeed pleads guilty to two charges under Britain's Terrorism Act.

Story highlights

  • Defense says Jamshed Javeed, 30, was motivated by Syrian people's suffering
  • Javeed pleads guilty to two terrorism offenses in a UK court
  • Police accused him of helping associates to travel to Syria for terrorism purposes
  • They said he planned to join them and had bought equipment for ISIS fighters to use
A British science teacher admitted Monday to trying to help anti-Assad regime fighters commit acts of terrorism in Syria.
Jamshed Javeed, 30, from the northern English city of Manchester, pleaded guilty to two terrorism charges at Woolwich Crown Court.
Police said the father of one had helped four associates travel to Syria for terrorism purposes last year and had planned to join them in the war-torn country.
"He bought equipment for himself and for ISIS fighters to use once he arrived in Syria," Greater Manchester Police said in a statement.
Javeed's family had grown suspicious of his behavior and confronted him in December, urging him not to go to Syria, but he had said he was committed, police said. Counterterrorism officers arrested Javeed at his home December 21, two days after the confrontation.
"Javeed was an otherwise law-abiding man who had a responsible job, a child and another one on the way," Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Mole said.
"However, from August last year both his appearance and behavior started to change and in a short space of time he started to support the ISIS cause and those planning to travel to Syria.
"His family grew suspicious and were clearly intent on stopping him, but he ignored their pleas and told them he was determined to go through with his plans to travel to Syria. He had bought equipment to take with him and had given money to help others travel there," Mole said.
The case demonstrated the importance of informing authorities early about someone's intentions to join a group such as ISIS, Mole said.
Not an extremist, defense says
But Javeed is not an extremist, his defense attorneys said.
The defense argued that Javeed was "deeply moved by the images and reports of the extreme suffering of the Syrian people at the hands of Bashar Al-Assad's vicious regime."
Javeed's actions followed footage of chemical weapons use against civilians in Syria and British Prime Minister David Cameron's failed attempt to get Parliament to approve joining military action against the Assad regime, said a document setting out the basis for the guilty plea.
"It was against this background ... that Jamshed Javeed subsequently came to the conclusion that he should go to support the ordinary people of Syria. He accepts that this would have meant becoming involved in some fighting, as well as humanitarian relief."
The defense said that Javeed did not know he could be prosecuted for making plans to travel to Syria to fight pro-Assad forces and would not have gone if he had known so. Javeed expected to return to his teaching job after returning from Syria.
"He has never supported and does not support the aims of ISIS as now revealed and understood," the document said. "The defendant would not travel to Syria now. There is no coherent rebel force seeking to defeat Assad. He is appalled at the indiscriminate brutality of ISIS."
Javeed is being held in custody for sentencing on December 12.
A teacher at high school
Javeed had taught at Sharples High School in Bolton, Greater Manchester. The school teaches students ages 11 to 16. In January, the Bolton News newspaper reported Javeed's arrest.
It quoted Sharples head teacher Rachel Quesnel as saying the school was "working closely with the police to ensure the situation is resolved as quickly as possible."
"I have taken the decision, along with the chair of governors, to suspend the teacher from his teaching duties in order that a full investigation can take place," Quesnel told the paper.
"Please be assured that there is no evidence to suggest that Mr. Javeed's alleged actions are related to his role as teacher at Sharples School, nor is there anything to suggest that our pupils or the wider community have been under any kind of risk."