Opinion: What made 'New Jihadi John' a global terrorist

Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India Updated: Feb 12, 2018, 11:56 AM(IST)

Nihad Barakat, a Yazidi teenager held as a sex slave by ISIS, was quoted as saying by the Independent in May 2016 that she was kidnapped and trafficked by Siddhartha Dhar, who was based in Mosul, the group's former stronghold in Iraq. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

In 1984, a small boy was born into a Bengali family staying in Walthamstow, London. His name was Siddharth Dhar. Young Siddharth joined his family business but didn't stick to it for long. 

Circumstances changed, and young Siddharth came in touch with some hardliner Islamic preachers. The interaction soon resulted in his conversion to Islam. Siddharth Dhar got a new name: Saiful Islam. 

It is hard to tell now whether Saiful's belief in radical ideology inspired him to convert or the other way round. Unfortunately, soon after the drift towards violence was evident. Soon Siddharth married a lady called Aisha who herself was associated with some hardliner Islamic organisations. 

Saiful Islam, when not engaged in the business of was seen in various agitations and protests against what he felt to be injustices committed against Muslims in the world. He started posting his videos online and kept looking for likeminded radical Islamic people outside mosques after every Friday prayer. 

He said in one of his YouTube videos, “The Caliphate is a dream for all the Muslims world wide”. He also quipped,  “We can Finally have a sanctuary where we can practice our religion and live under Sharia law”.

Not only this, he sometimes appeared on BBC’s Sunday Morning Live religious programs and expressed his hardliner views openly. He said, "Now that we have this caliphate I think you'll see many Muslims globally seeing it as an opportunity for the Koran to be realised." 

Also, "As a Muslim, I would like to see the UK governed by the Sharia. It is far superior to democracy. I don't really identify myself with British values. I am Muslim first, second and last."

 In 2014, when Siddharth was 30-year-old and a father of 4 kids, he was caught six times by the London Police for being associated with terror activities but every time he was released on bail. After he was released on bail for the sixth time, Siddharth Dhar Aka Saiful Islam left Britain with the family. After few weeks, he surfaced in Syria when he released a photo of him with his fourth newborn child and an assault rifle. Even then few could guess that this smiling boy is going to become one of the most dreaded Islamic State terrorists in the world, and will be renamed as Aby Rumysah by the leaders of ISIS. 

Since then, he has been making a mockery of the world by criticising them. His videos on YouTube are common and today the world knows him by many names: New Jihadi John, Aby Rumysah, Abu Dhar, Saiful Islam. He is the public face and official spokesperson of a little known Islamic Group called “Al-Muhajiroun” who was earlier UK-based but pledged its alliance to ISIS and currently have safe heavens in Lahore, Pakistan. 

He published a detailed travel guide prospective followers of ISIS  in 2015 in which he said, "If you thought London or New York was cosmopolitan, then wait until you step foot in the Islamic State because it screams diversity. In my short time here, I have met people from absolutely every walk of life, proof that the caliphate's pulling power is strong and tenacious."

He is one of the rare breeds of terrorists who openly explained his views on Islamic Radicalism, Sharia, Sex Slavery and many other issues of ISIS. 

Saiful Islam is believed to have replaced another terrorist Mohammad Emwazi or Jihadi John after he was killed in a drone strike. Ironically, Mohammad Emwazi was also a British Citizen.

The question arises as to who is responsible for the conversion of a normal decent human being into such a dreaded terrorist. Certainly, the country where he was born and bought up and the authorities should be blamed. The circumstances under which he was released on bail and under which he could sneak out of the country raises a serious question over the security arrangement of a country which is called as one of the superpowers of the world. His tweet after he reached Syria reflects the same. 

Saiful tweeted:
“What a shoddy security system Britain must have to allow me to breeze through Europe to ISIS,”

Imagine a person being arrested six times for anti-national activities, getting released every time on bail and, finally, can sneak out of the country along with wife and four kids successfully to join ISIS. This is a clear failure on the part of Britain. 

A report said that there were about 1200-1500 British citizens who sneaked out of the country and joined ISIS in the past 5-6 years alone which is more than 10 times of India which has just 132 confirmed cases.

For a country which has about 28 Lakh Muslims, such large number of ISIS recruitments only reflect the inefficiency of the country’s security system. 

Britain has no option except to immediately curb the rise of Islamic radicalism in their country and strengthen the security measures. ISIS is on a verge of collapse but Islamic Radicalism is not and there are high chances that some other organisation may replace the Daesh. The names will only change but the terrorists will remain the same. 


(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)  

Major Amit Bansal (Retd)

Major Amit Bansal is is a Defence Strategist with keen interests in International Relations and Internal Security. He is also an author, blogger and poet.

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