A white male radicalised Muslim convert, who worked in Asda, planned to leave the UK and join Islamic State because Brexit caused “division” in the Muslim community, a court has heard.
Ryan Counsell, 28, was jailed for eight years after he was found to be in the advanced stages of planning to abandon his pregnant wife and three-year-old daughter in order to join Abu Sayyaf – a Philippines-based terror group which has sworn allegiance to Islamic State.
The group frequently clashes with the army and they released a video on Sunday showing German tourist Jurgen Kantner, 70, being beheaded with a machete after four months in captivity.
Suspicions about Mr. Councell were raised after he bought a return ticket to the Philippines along with £900 worth of military gear, including Kevlar “blast boxers”, the Nottingham Post reports.
When police raided his house, they found a wealth of extremist material including the Islamic State magazine and a manual called “How to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom”.
Mr. Counsell, however, claims he was merely interested in living “off the grid” in the Philippines, and watching the series Lives In The Wild by the BBC presenter Ben Fogle had sparked his interest in the region.
He worked as a floor assistant at his local Asda supermarket before being arrested at Stansted Airport on the 11th of July after booking a week off work.
His barrister John Kearney said Mr. Counsell was “a bit odd” but not violent or an extremist. “He wanted to leave the UK to live a humble, simple life, in a Muslim community”, he claimed.
“He discussed going to Somalia. He considered going to Bosnia, and he considered the Philippines. He wanted to live in a community under sharia law with what he saw as an idyllic way of life.
“After Brexit there were divisions in his community in Nottingham, he was concerned about the way ordinary people were reacting to ordinary Muslims. So with that background he was looking for a different way of life.
“He was convicted on the basis that was what he intended to do but it not something he would have been able to do. I repeat that for him to join that group the idea is quite frankly absurd.”
However, the bomb-making instructions, documents about how to travel to join Islamic State, videos of beheadings, and military equipment in Mr. Councell’s house appeared to suggest otherwise.
Detective Superintendent Simon Atkinson, Head of Investigations at the North East Counter Terrorism Unit, said in a statement: “The sentence delivered today reflects the weight of evidence against Ryan Counsell in this case and the potential threat his actions posed.
“In May last year Counsell was clearly demonstrating a growing interest in terrorism. This developed at a rapid pace and, by the time of his arrest in July, Counsell had worryingly taken significant steps towards preparing to travel to the Phillipines in order to join and fight with a terrorist organisation.”
Part of Mr. Councell’s motivation for becoming an Islamist terrorist appears to have been sexual and on the way to the Philippines he planned to hire prostitutes.
He visited escort websites and his internet searches included “I hate marriage” and “Philippines escort directory”, Sky News reports.
His wife, who he met on an Islamic dating service, was “sceptical” about his terrorist aspirations. She was of a Somalia background although her parents lived in the Netherlands.
In his defence, Mr. Counsell told the court he felt sexually “unfulfilled” and “the sexual side of the relationship with my wife, I would say was non-existent, because she refused to have sex with me all the time”.