Police today welcomed the conviction of a Portsmouth man for terrorism offences as a warning to others.
Former Portsmouth City Council worker Mashudur Rahman Choudhury, 31, of Stubbington Avenue, was convicted under Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006 after Kingston Crown Court heard he planned to travel to Syria to carry out acts of terrorism.
Assistant Chief Constable Brendan O’Dowda, who heads up the South East Counter Terrorism Unit, welcomed the conviction, which is the first of its kind in the UK.
ACC O’Dowda, of Thames Valley Police, said: “Today’s conviction sends out strong message to anyone considering engaging in terrorist activity, be that in the UK or overseas, that we will pursue you and your networks.
“Choudhury made plans to travel to Syria with the intention of engaging in training to undertake terrorist activity. He had considered and planned his trip for some weeks, even months beforehand. He initially travelled to Turkey, before crossing into Syria and eventually returning back into the UK in October 2013 where he was arrested.
“He has hid behind a history lies in an effort to misdirect and frustrate our investigation.
“The ongoing conflict in Syria is terrible for us all to see. Great sympathy is felt for those victims of that conflict. If anyone has a genuine desire to help then they are encouraged to offer aid and support by donating through charities supporting the relief operation.
“Syria is a very dangerous place - best described as a cocktail of high risk and threat. Anyone thinking of travelling to fight ‘Jihad’ against the Assad regime think again. You are likely to be killed or kidnapped and if you return to the UK you are highly likely to be arrested.
“We hope that this case offers reassurance that we will work tirelessly to identify and tackle the threat posed from terrorism. The safety and security of all our communities across the UK is paramount”
Hampshire Police’s Portsmouth District Commander, Superintendent Ali Heydari, said: “This is a unique case for Portsmouth and in fact Hampshire and the Isle of Wight as a whole. We have very good relationships with key figures within the city and work with them to share information. We all have a common aim to prevent radicalisation in all forms.
“In this case we received information from the community which was acted on and led to today’s result. We would like to thank Portsmouth residents for continuing to report anything they are concerned about to us.
“We are working very closely with partner agencies in Portsmouth to implement the national Prevent programme. This involves supporting those who may be vulnerable to radicalisation and helping to prevent people from travelling overseas to become involved in conflict and terrorist activity.
Anyone who has any concerns should contact Hampshire Constabulary by dialling 101. If you see or hear anything that could be terrorist related, trust your instincts – please call us on 101 or call the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321.
In a statement issued through Thames Valley Police, David Williams, chief executive of Portsmouth City Council, said: “Portsmouth is a diverse and tolerant city, as a council we pride ourselves on building relationships with all community groups.
“Six years ago, following an enhanced CRB check, Mashudur Choudhury held a junior position for a year as a racial harassment caseworker, during which he was seconded as a part-time community development worker for six months.
“Mashudur Choudhury embellished both roles on his CV as presented to the court. They were not the level of seniority he implied.
“As a caseworker he supported residents that suffered racial harassment, it wasn’t a position that wrote strategies or would deputise for a senior manager.
“In his seconded role he engaged with the Muslim and voluntary community and assisted the project leader. He was not responsible for funding, commissioning services or involved in making policy decisions.
“Community safety is an important service of which preventing extremism is one element, but alongside our partners the main aim is to create one Portsmouth, a city everyone feels part of. We will continue to build engagement and trust with our Muslim community. “