NHS doctor accused of being part of 15-strong British jihadi group in Syria

Shajul Islam, 26, appeared in court yesterday charged with his role in the gang which kidnapped and injured British photographer John Cantlie and Dutch journalist Jeroen Oerlemans in July this year.

Islam, from Stratford, east London, has a first-class degree in biochemistry and trained to be a doctor at St Bartholomew’s and a University of London hospital.

He was arrested last week at Heathrow Airport and charged with a terrorism offence after arriving with his wife and one-year-old daughter.

He is accused of being part of an extremist group that kept Mr Cantlie and Mr Oerlemans captive for around a week in the war-torn state in the summer.

At one stage the pair were shot trying to escaped and were allegedly treated by Islam.

They had strayed in to the camp by accident after crossing the border from Turkey to cover the conflict.

The pair were kept handcuffed and blindfolded but were finally released with the help of the Free Syrian Army.

Piers Arnold, prosecuting, told Westminster Magisatrates Court: “It was not occupied by the Free Syria Army but by a band of jihadist fighters, clearly religiously motivated, and it was equally clear they were unwelcome.

“They were threatened at gunpoint, blind folded and restrained.”

It is believed there were 40 people in the camp from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.

“Chechnans and youngsters engaged in Jihad conflict for the first time.

“A significant number of individuals appeared to be British, 15 British nationals were in the camp.”

Islam appeared in court wearing a black jacket with a grey shirt and tie. He spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and address.

Mozammel Hossain, defending him, said: “This is a bright young man with a very promising future in this country as an NHS doctor.

“He has a first-class degree in biochemistry. He has qualified as a doctor and completed his training.

It is alleged that Islam, with others, unlawfully and injuriously imprisoned John Cantlie and Jeroen Oerlemans against their will, between July 17 and 26. He was remanded in custody and is next due to appear at the Old Bailey on November 2.

It has been alleged that the ringleader of the group, which wants to establish Shariah law in Syria, is also a British resident who is still at large and being hunted by the police and security services.

He is said to head the 40-strong group, which also includes Chechnans and other foreign jihadists.

The intelligence services have previously warned as many as 100 Britons may have travelled to Syria to either join jihadi groups or to fight alongside rebel forces attacking the regime of Bashar al – Assad.

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