LONDON (Reuters) - Two brothers from London on Wednesday became the first Britons to be convicted for attending a militant training camp in Syria as Western governments increasingly warn of the threat posed by fighters returning from conflicts in the Middle East.
Finding them guilty of conspiracy to attend a terrorist training camp, the judge at London’s Old Bailey sentenced Mohommod Hassin Nawaz, 31, and his 23-year-old brother Hamza Nawaz, to four and three-and-a-half years in jail respectively.
The sentence comes as the British government brings in a new security bill to tackle Britons trying to travel to Syria and Iraq, and to deal with returning fighters, who it says pose a serious risk to national security.
The brothers were arrested in September 2013 after ammunition for rifles, cash and a balaclava were found in their car at the southeastern port of Dover, where they had arrived on a ferry from Calais.
Police found communications on their phones which indicated they had attended a training camp in the Latakia province of Syria.
“The sentence highlights the critical work police and security services carry out to identify individuals returning from conflict zones,” said London police’s Counter Terrorism Acting Commander Terri Nicholson.
“This comes at a time when the global concern about the threat posed by returnees is intensifying.”
Some 500 Britons are thought by the authorities to have traveled to Syria and Iraq, and around half have returned home.
On Monday, Home Secretary (interior minister) Theresa May warned that Britain was facing the biggest terrorism threat in its history, and said about 40 major plots had been thwarted since suicide bombings killed 52 people in London in 2005.
Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky