UK

British Childhood Friends Mohammed Ahmed & Yusuf Sarwar Jailed For Fighting For Al-Qaeda In Syria

05/12/2014 13:36 GMT | Updated 05/12/2014 13:59 GMT

Two young British men who travelled to Syria to join an al Qaeda-linked terrorist group have been jailed for nearly 13 years.

Childhood friends Mohammed Ahmed and Yusuf Sarwar, from Birmingham, fled to the war-torn country in May last year after contacting Islamic extremists.

The men, both 22, were arrested on their return to the UK in January and pleaded guilty to one count of engaging in conduct in preparation of terrorism acts contrary to Section 5 of the Terrorism Act.

mohammed ahmed and yusuf sarwar

Mohammed Nahin Ahmed (right) and Yusuf Zubair Sarwar in an undated picture supplied by West Midlands Police

They were sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court in London on Friday to 12 years and eight months in prison with an extended licence period of five years.

Judge Michael Topolski QC said: "They willingly, enthusiastically and with a great deal of purpose, persistence and determination embarked on a course intended to commit acts of terrorism."

mohammed ahmed and yusuf sarwar

Ahmed (left) and Sarwar were both sentenced on Friday

The judge added: "The consequences for them are dramatic and distressing for the families concerned.

"It's with no enthusiasm the court sentences young men to significant terms of imprisonment.

"A grave crime has been committed. The sentence in each is an extended sentence of 17 years and eight months."

Sarwar, wearing a light-coloured shirt, tie and waistcoat, and Ahmed, dressed in a dark suit with a shirt and tie, showed no emotion throughout the hearing.

The bearded defendants, both wearing glasses, were flanked by four security guards in the dock.