Would-be terrorist caught on his way to join ISIS is freed onto England's streets
A wannabe terrorist who was jailed after being caught trying to flee the UK with a rucksack, hair trimmer, factor 50 sun cream and combat fatigues to fight with ISIS has been freed.
Taxi driver Naseer Taj, then 26, was jailed for eight years and three months in May 2016 after his shocking plan to ditch his pregnant wife and marry a jihadi bride was exposed.
At his trial at the Old Bailey in London, Taj’s Walter-Mitty style plans were revealed, which included a rag-tag of items for his kit, such as an eye-patch, manicure set, £200 in cash and a mosquito net.
The bizarre stash was uncovered by counter terrorism police on December 29, 2014, who swooped on Taj’s one-bedroom flat in Bedford, while he and his wife Rabia Khalique were at home.
He was due to leave the UK two days later, having booked a Eurostar ticket to Brussels and a flight on to Turkey.
Taj tried to convince the jury that a number of trips he had previously made to Turkey - and his planned visit - was to punish his British wife after a series of blazing rows.
But, officers discovered the former FedEx worker had a stash of extremist material on his phone, including al-Qaeda magazines which included an article about parcel bombs, UPS and FedEx.
It was also revealed during the trial that Taj was in daily contact with Mohammed Uddin, who went to Syria in November 2014 but was sent back after being detained by Turkish authorities.
Uddin was jailed for seven years in February 2016 after pleading guilty to a charge of preparing acts of terrorism.
He had complained of the ‘cold water’, ‘bland food’ and ‘doing absolutely jack’ to Taj while in Syria.
MailOnline revealed earlier in August that Uddin, now aged 37, is on the verge of being paroled having previously been released on licence in December 2019, but recalled in February 2023 for breaking parole rules.
A parole decision on the 10th May 2023, was not to release Uddin, but stated: ‘If not released by the panel, Mr Uddin would otherwise be released at the end of his sentence in August 2023.’
The MailOnline recently contacted the Parole Board about Uddin’s close associate Taj, and it has been confirmed that he was released in August 2019 after a positive parole recommendation.
A spokesperson for the Parole Board said: ‘We can confirm that a panel of the Parole Board has directed the release of Naseer Taj following an oral hearing.
‘Parole Board decisions are solely focused on what risk a prisoner could represent to the public if released and whether that risk is manageable in the community.
‘A panel will carefully examine a huge range of evidence, including details of the original crime, and any evidence of behaviour change, as well as explore the harm done and impact the crime has had on the victims.
‘Members read and digest hundreds of pages of evidence and reports in the lead up to an oral hearing.
‘Evidence from witnesses such as probation officers, psychiatrists and psychologists, officials supervising the offender in prison as well as victim personal statements may be given at the hearing.
‘It is standard for the prisoner and witnesses to be questioned at length during the hearing which often lasts a full day or more.
‘Parole reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority.’
The release of Taj after little more than three years in jail is more shocking as his trial was told disturbing details about how he was in contact with a number of extremists and concocted a tissue of lies to protect himself and others.
Taj also exchanged texts with ISIS fixer Abu Qaqa - aka Raphael Hostey, from Manchester - and asked him if Iraq was the best place for a quick martyrdom.
Meanwhile, he discussed marriage with a woman in Syria called Umm Jibreel to smooth their entry into the city of Raqqa.
On December 13 2014 he told her: ‘I dnt wanna pressurise u into deciding 100% on marrying me...Keep me posted I’ll be waiting (sic).’
She replied: ‘...no!!! WALLAHI (by God) there’s no pressure...I’v been making istikhara (prayer) about this for a long time (sic)’.
The defendant sent thousands of tweets, using a profile picture of an al-Qaeda leader with a background image of Jihadi John wielding a knife.
In the days before his arrest, he posted more than 1,000 tweets and retweets, with 27 per cent of them referring to ISIS.
The defence at his trial claimed Taj had planned to live peacefully in Syria with his new wife, but he had changed his mind about travelling shortly before his arrest.
But the jury was also told that police found Taj had assumed the name Abu Bakr Al-Kashmiri to open a Twitter account, which is no longer available.
The wallpaper on the account, used an image of Mohammed Emwazi - the British Muslim known as Jihadi John who was filmed carrying out beheadings and was killed in a drone strike in November 2016.