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21 January 2016, 18:39
A mum accused of going to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State group has told a court she feared going straight to hell if she stayed in England.
Tareena Shakil, who is on trial for terror charges, said at one point: "This is my struggle, my jihad, to leave England behind and go and live in the Islamic State."
She was explaining to a jury today why she used the word "jihad" in a message home to loved ones sent while in a safe house in the Syrian countryside with other women in October 2014.
Shakil explained: "It has nothing to do with terrorism or jihad or being a jihadi bride or taking up arms."
The 26-year-old flew to Turkey that month telling friends she was going on a beach holiday with a toddler, but ended up living in the IS capital of Raqqa.
After flying from her resort to Gaziantep on the Turkish border, she claimed a contact she met online arranged for her to be driven by cab to an apartment block full of other women of different nationalities.
Early next morning, there was a knock on the door and she and a few others were told "Get your things, you're going.''
Her group crossed the border in a vehicle driven across fields, before swapping vans and being driven to a farmhouse near Jarabalus in Syria, where there were women from France, Qatar, Trinidad, and the Philippines.
In police interviews Tareena explained how she'd ended up going to Syria after meeting a man working on the beach in Turkey and how escaped the group:
Shakil denies joining the banned terror group and encouraging acts of terror through Twitter posts.
Married Shakil said she had been retweeting images of the black flag of IS but had no idea of their direct association with the terror group.
In relation to a series of other images and Islamic passages which the Crown claims show she was supporting terrorism, Shakil said she only retweeted things if she liked the look or sound of them.
Asked by Tim Moloney QC, her barrister, if they were meant to encourage acts of terror she replied: "No, not at all.''
The former University of Wolverhampton student, who dropped out because of family problems in 2010, said her travelling to Syria was "not about fighting or killing anybody'' but to live under sharia law.
The trial continues.