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  1. ITV Report

Teenager blew student loan to travel to join Islamic State after conning his way into university

A teenager who blew his student loan and educational grants on travelling to join Islamic State after conning his way into university has been convicted of terror offences.

Yahya Rashid at Gatwick Airport Credit: PA

Yahya Rashid, 19, used a forged BTEC certificate to get on a course at Middlesex University in London.

He then used cash he was entitled to claim to take four friends from his mosque with him to the Turkey/Syria border via Morocco in February.

Rashid's trial at Woolwich Crown Court heard that his friends crossed the border to Syria. But the teeager, aged just 18 at the time, backed out and remained in Turkey after talking to his father, before returning to the UK and being arrested.

The teenager's trial heard that the group were stopped and questioned by police at Gatwick Airport as they left the UK but were subsequently allowed to board their flight to Casablanca, which started a journey that led them eventually to the Turkish border town of Gaziantep.

Rashid, whose family is originally from Somalia, paid £906 for five return flights to Morocco for himself and four others - Khalid Abdul-Rahman, Ibrahim Amouri, Swaleh Mohammed and Mr Mohammed's wife, Deqo Osman, who all went to Wembley Mosque with the defendant.

Yahya Rashid arriving at Gatwick Airport with two others Credit: PA

The jury was told that before he left the UK Rashid's YouTube account had ticked "like" on around 300 YouTube videos, many of them Islamist-themed, although it could not be proved he had personally ticked them.

It had also been used to make comments under other videos, including one on the Charlie Hebdo massacre where a comment was left saying: "Allah Akbar (God is great). This makes me happy." The defence had claimed Rashid was a vulnerable young man with a low IQ who had done the right thing by turning back, before being arrested.

Defence barrister Mark McDonald told the jury the teenager did not want to fight for IS but simply wanted to live in what he thought was an "Islamic utopia".

Rashid, from Willesden, north-west London, will be sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court on November 18.