British Islamic State jihadi who faked his own death jailed for 12 years

A British jihadi who posed with the severed heads of Syrian soldiers and faked his own death to sneak back into the UK has been jailed for 12 years. But Imran Khawaja - who spent six months in Syria alongside insurgents linked to terror group Islamic State - has appealed to other young British Muslims not to make the same mistakes he did. He acted as a frontman for Rayat Al Tawheed, posting dozens of photos and videos online and boasting of his weapons training and exploits on the battlefield.

His attitude is quite clearly contemptuous. There is no sign of compulsion or revulsion.

Prosecutor Brian Altman

During a two-day sentencing hearing at Woolwich Crown Court in south east London, Khawaja’s defence team appealed to the Judge Mr Justice Baker for leniency, claimed the 27-year-old was a “psychologically vulnerable” young man who bitterly regretted his actions. But prosecutor Brian Altman QC said Khawaja had featured in some truly disturbing footage of decapitated Syrian government soldiers. In one video sequence, played before a hushed court, Mr Altman said Khawaja could be seen picking up severed heads from the back of a flatbed truck and saying: “Heads. Kuffar (non-Muslims) Disgusting.”

Imran Khawaja’s actions are one of the most appalling examples of violent extremism that I have seen committed by British jihadis returning from Syria.

Deborah Walsh, from the Crown Prosecution Service