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Thu 22 Jan 2015 12:32 PM

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Briton who faked own death in Syria admits terrorism offences

UK resident fought with an Islamist group faked his own death in the hope of being able to return home undetected

Briton who faked own death in Syria admits terrorism offences
Photo for illustrative purpose only (Getty Images)

A Briton who fought with an Islamist group in Syria
and then faked his own death in the hope of being able to return home undetected
has admitted to terrorism offences in a London court.

Imran Khawaja, 27, of Southall, west London,
travelled to a training camp in Syria in January last year and joined Rayat al
Tawheed, which became aligned with ISIL, the Metropolitan Police said in a
statement.

The group began posting violent propaganda online
in an attempt to persuade others to come out and join them, it added.

"Khawaja was seen in a disturbing video posted
on social media which includes a bag of severed heads," the statement
said. "He appears in the footage with his face covered picking up one of
the heads from the bag and showing it to the camera."

In May 2014, the group put out a message on social
media claiming that he had been killed, alongside an image of two masked men
holding a flag associated with ISIL.

Commander Richard Walton, head of the SO15 Counter
Terrorism Command, said: "Khawaja chose to become a terrorist, engaged in
weapons training in a terrorist training camp and faked his own death in order
to conceal his entry back into the UK."

But he and his cousin Tahir Bhatti were arrested
last June at the southeastern port of Dover.

Khawaja has admitted preparing to commit terrorist
acts, receiving training in the use of firearms and attending a place for
terrorist training.

Bhatti, 45, of Watford, north of London, pleaded
guilty to helping him. Khawaja's plea only become reportable after Bhatti's
admission on Tuesday at the Old Bailey court.

The men will be sentenced next month.