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Monday, January 30, 2023

Returning Foreign Fighter Pleads Guilty to Sharing Beheading Videos

A British man who went to Syria to join the Islamic State group has admitted sharing beheading videos. Stefan Aristidou, 27, entered guilty pleas to four terrorism offenses at the Old Bailey and will be sentenced in September.

He was arrested at Heathrow Airport, U.K. on February 3 after arriving on a flight from Turkey.

The material that Aristidou is charged with disseminating includes Islamic State videos of beheadings and public executions. He is thought to have moved to Syria in 2015.

In 2017, he was arrested at a repatriation center in Turkey for belonging to a terrorist organization. Turkish officials said at the time that Aristidou would stand trial in the country and could face up to 15 years in prison. In fact, he and his wife were sentenced to six years and three months in Turkey after they were convicted on terrorism charges. However his appearance at Heathrow shows he did not serve the full term.

Prior to his arrest in Turkey, he had spoken to a Sky News journalist to complain that living under Islmaic State rule was like being in prison, and that he wanted to get his life back.

BBC research reveals he is the 14th person convicted of terror charges out of hundreds who returned from Syria after joining jihadist groups. The research shows only 3% of returnees have been convicted of such offenses.

Kylie Bielby
Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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