A fighter with Daesh, known as Islamic State, sent flirty messages to male friends in the UK, a court heard.

Initially courts protected the identity of 19-year-old Aseel Muthana, for fear that his Daesh comrades would suspect that he had sex with men.

But it has now been revealed, during the trial of three Islamists who helped him reach Syria, that he sent flirtatious messages other men.

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Muthana was known to have signed off messages with kisses, heart symbols and declarations of love.

In one message, he wrote “radicalise me babe”, and the the court heard he had formed an “intense friendship” with the man.

According to a Times report, speaking at a pre-trial briefing, former assistant chief constable of South Wales Nikki Holland said: “Everyone is entitled to police protection. It doesn’t stop at the border, even a terrorist.”

“He has a right to life. We don’t put anything out that could impact on his human rights because we could be liable for that.”

The trial was of three Islamists, who were accused of helping the man reach Syria from Cardiff.

His older brother was already there, and he went there to join up with him.

Forhad Rahman from Cirencester, Adeel Ulhaq from Sutton-in-Ashfield, and Cardiff convert Kristen Brekke were all found guilty of helping Muthana reach Syria in 2014.

Speaking at the trial, Prosecutor Daniel Pawson-Pounds said the WhatsApp chats showed “an emotional closeness between Rahman and Muthana”.

Continuing, he said: “There can be no doubt that these young men rapidly became close friends who expressed themselves to each other in affectionate terms.”

The court heard that the language in the WhatsApp messages left their “sexuality open to interpretation”, as Rahman described Muthana a “Welsh cutie”.

Despite the implications of the messages, no evidence was given that Muthana was gay.

He has not been heard from or seen since he left for Syria.

Daesh often brutally executes men suspected of being gay, including throwing them off buildings, and stoning them to death.

Families and children have been seen at the executions of several gay men by Daesh militants.