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R v. Mashudur Choudhury

Court Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court, Great Britain (UK)
Case number T20137776
Decision title Jury Verdict
Decision date 20 May 2014
  • United Kingdom
  • Mashudur Rahman Choudhury
Categories Terrorism
Keywords Terrorism, Foreign fighters, Syria, Travel, Preparatory Acts, Social Media
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Mashudur Choudhury is the first person to be convicted of terrorism charges in relation to the ongoing war in Syria. Mr. Choudhury, who is from Portsmouth, was found guilty of travelling to Syria to join a jihadi training camp. His intention to become a martyr was evident throughout his conversations with another foreign fighter and his posts on social media. He was arrested and charged upon his return to the UK a few weeks after his departure. Mr. Choudhury has been sentenced to 4 years’ imprisonment. 

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Procedural history

Mr. Choudhury was arrested on 25 October 2013 upon his return from Syria to the UK. He pleaded not guilty to the charges levelled against him and his trial before a jury lasted for two weeks. 

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Related developments

On 5 December 2014, Mr. Choudhury was sentenced to 4 years’ imprisonment with a notification period of 10 years. In addition, he was ordered to forfeit £1780 and to pay a Victim Surcharge of £120.

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Legally relevant facts

Mr. Choudhury started making plans to travel to Syria in the summer of 2013, including by researching terrorism training in Syria, how to buy handguns, and the ongoing conflict in Syria online. He discussed these plans with a fighter, Ifthekar Jaman, who had departed for Syria earlier, as well as several other interested travellers in his local area. He stated his desire to become a martyr via social media (eg Twitter).

Mr. Choudhury ultimately left Britain on 8 October 2013 with Muhammad Hamidur Rahman, Assad Uzzaman, Muhammad Mehdi Hassan and Mamunur Mohammed Roshid. They travelled first to Turkey and then, with the help of Mr. Jaman, onto Syria. Following their arrival in Syria, Mr. Choudhury’s companions are presumed to have joined armed jihadi groups and have not returned to the UK.

In contrast, Mr. Choudhury decided to part from his companions and travel home, claiming fallaciously that he was suffering from cancer. On 25 October 2013, Mr. Choudhury returned to the UK and was arrested. During the trial, “[t]he court heard that he either returned after seeing the harsh reality of the war in Syria or because he was rejected at the training camp”. 

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Core legal questions

Is the conduct of the defendant constitutive of preparatory terrorist acts under UK law?

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Specific legal rules and provisions

Section 5(1) of the Terrorism Act (UK)

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Court's holding and analysis

Following four hours of deliberations, Mr. Choudhury was found guilty by an unanimous jury verdict of one count of engaging in conduct in preparation for acts of terrorism in contravention of Section 5(1) of the Terrorism Act. 

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Further analysis

The Law Pages, ‘Mashudur Rahman Choudhury’, The Law Pages, 2016. 

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Instruments cited

Terrorism Act 2006 (UK)

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Additional materials

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Social media links

F Ansari, ‘When does Travel become Terrorism? Reflections on the Conviction of Mashudur Choudhury’, CAGE, 27 May 2014.