'The second I get a chance I am doing Martyrdom' - Coventry man convicted of preparing for terrorist acts

Ashiq was arrested at Heathrow Airport after failing to enter Syria Credit: West Midlands Police

A man from Coventry, who was intent on martyring himself while fighting alongside friends in Syria, has been convicted of preparing for terrorist acts.

Zakariya Ashiq, from Foleshill, was also found guilty of assisting others to prepare for terrorism in a week-long trial at the Old Bailey in London.

Lat November, the unemployed 20-year-old failed in his attempt to join Islamic State and was arrested when he returned to the UK.

The court heard that Ashiq had made other attempts to enter Syria, and that two of his friends from Coventry - Ali Kalantar and Mohammed Ismail - and their friend Rashid Amani, were already in Syria, believed to be engaged in conflict. Kalantar and Amani have since been reported killed in the fighting.

The prosecution said Ashiq may have successfully entered Syria for a period in May 2014. But when he was questioned by police about his travel, he said he had no desire to join the so called 'Islamic State', and that his friend Ismail was 'an idiot' for signing up.

However, evidence found on Ashiq's phone included numerous recordings sent to his friends describing the intense efforts he was making to join them, and asking for their help to cross the border.

He had deleted the messages, but investigators managed to recover them.

The jury at the Old Bailey was played these recordings. In one, the defendant was heard to say: "The second I get a chance I am doing Martyrdom," and, "there is no life without Jihad."

The jury was also told about the lengthy journey he had made by road across Europe, via Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Bulgaria, in an attempt to appear a normal tourist.

Officers from the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit arrested his when he eventually flew home from Jordan to Heathrow Airport, having failed to get into Syria.

Ashiq was arrested at Heathrow Airport after failing to enter Syria Credit: West Midlands Police

In his defence, Ashiq admitted trying to get to Syria but said he had to leave the UK because he was being "pestered" by MI5 and "tortured" by unidentified shadowy figures.

He originally denied the charges, but when speaking from the witness box he admitted he had intended in November to travel to Syria and join the Islamic State group.

Ashiq will be sentenced tomorrow.