Once he dreamed of becoming the first Asian Prime Minister, but now this British-born jihadi spouts only hatred as he boasts of his allegiance to the murderous terrorists of ISIS, on their killing spree in Iraq and Syria.
Identified today by The Mail on Sunday, Reyaad Khan, 20, sits with a Kalashnikov assault rifle against his shoulder alongside two other British Islamists in a chilling recruitment video, urging British Muslims to take up arms.
Reyaad, who former school friends in Wales recall as a studious pupil who loved sports, is the second man to be identified in the video. He has joined the estimated 500 Britons who have been radicalised and gone to fight in the Middle East.
Yesterday, after seeing his photograph in the media, at least five people on Twitter named him as Reyaad Khan, a former pupil at Cardiff’s Cantonian High School. From there he went to St David’s Catholic sixth-form college in the city, attended by 20-year-old gap-year student Nasser Muthana – also seen in the video urging Britons to join ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria.
Nasser had taken £100 from his father to go on an Islamic seminar in Shrewsbury in November, but instead went to Syria. Three months later his brother Aseel, 17, left the house saying he was going to a friend’s for the night, but the following evening it transpired that Aseel had obtained a second passport by lying about his age and was in Cyprus, travelling to Syria.
Last night at his home in Cardiff, Nasser’s father, engineer Ahmed Muthana, 57, confirmed that Reyaad was the second man on the video. Mr Muthana said: ‘I have driven my son around to Reyaad’s house in Cardiff, but he would always get me to drop him in the street rather than outside the front door, so I don’t know which house he lived in.’
In the 13-minute recruitment film, taken as the men were about to cross from Syria into Iraq, Khan appears under the name ‘Brother Abu Dujana al Hindi – from Britain’, saying: ‘This is a message to the brothers who have stayed behind . . . you need to ask yourselves what prevents you from coming to the land of Al-Sham [Syria], what prevents you from joining the ranks of the mujahideen.’
THE GATHERING STORM: IMPACT OF RETURNING BRITISH-BORN MILITANTS WILL BE FELT FOR ‘MANY YEARS’
Warning: Assistant Commissioner of the Met police Cressida Dick says the consequences of Syria will be felt in the UK for many years
Britain will feel the repercussions of Syria and the rise of Islamic extremism within its own borders for ‘many years’ to come, a top counter-terrorism expert has said.
Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police’s assistant commissioner and head of specialist operations, warned that Britain would feel long-term consequences of the conflict.
She told the BBC it represented a terrorist threat to the UK, and that young British Muslims who have travelled to the war-torn country to fight might commit violence when they return.
Ms Dick told BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend: ‘I’m afraid I believe that we will be living with the consequences of Syria – from a terrorist point of view, let alone the world, geopolitical consequences – for many, many, many years to come.’
Her warning came after footage of the Muthana brothers emerged online. Two other men were arrested in March and April in the UK after they returned from Syria.
The pair, aged 19 and 23 and both also from Cardiff, were held on suspicion of receiving terrorist training and attending a place used for terrorist training, but were later released without charge.
Police across the UK have made 65 Syria-related arrests over the last 18 months, including 40 in the first three months of this year alone.
Khan sits with Muthana and another British jihadi in a white turban. Last night, South Wales police sources confirmed a man named Reyaad Khan had travelled to Syria with Nasser Muthana and two other men. The two unnamed men had since returned home and been arrested, but Khan and Muthana were both still believed to be abroad.
Last night, a friend who went to school with Khan told The Mail on Sunday: ‘‘He was clever and loved watching his sports, which is why we got on well. He was a Muslim but nothing this extreme, although over the last couple of years you could see he was becoming more of a stronger Muslim through his Facebook posts.’
One classmate, who did not want to be named, said that he had lost touch with Reyaad. He said ‘I wasn’t aware he was going but I was aware when he arrived there.’
The acquaintance said Reyaad had posted messages on Facebook about Iraq and others had written good luck messages. The friend sent him a concerned message saying: ‘Are you stupid?’
Khan was an A-grade student and advertised on the internet for a maths tutor while studying at the same sixth-form college as the other British jihadi in the video.
He wrote: ‘I’m 17 and a student at St David’s Catholic College. My GCSEs consist of 2 A*s, 6 As, 1 B, and 3 Cs including grade A in Double Science, Maths and English.
‘I would like tuition for A-level Maths.’ On his Facebook page he reveals that he is a fan of Chelsea FC, and enjoys playing computer games FIFA 12 and Call Of Duty. Until recently, his page reveals a typical teenager’s life – complaints about homework, chores and his mother nagging him.
In October 2010 he wrote: ‘i need 2 become the 1st Asian Prime Minister!’
Khan appears on a list of Britons accepted to study at Madinah University in Saudi Arabia in 2013/14 and his Facebook profile picture is now a jihadist symbol. But in recent times his posts began to take on a sinister edge as he referenced his new life as an extremist.
On March 9 this year he posted a comment, writing: ‘This video is of ad-dawlatul Islamia fil Iraq wa ash-Sham (ISIS). We are an Islamic State.
By the permission of Allah we control all of Raqqa in Syria all the way to Fallujah in Iraq. Only we are implementing the Sharia of Allah swt [glory to God]. So Allah has opened up the lands for us alhamdullilah [thanks be to God].
With everyone against us Allah swt separated the munafiqeen [hypocritical Muslims] from us and purified our ranks and made us stronger.’
On March 7 he wrote: ‘Don’t listen to what the enemies of Islam tell you about your State. By the permission of Allah we are at the doorstep of khilafa [an Islamic state].’
On November 11, 2013, he added: ‘When Allah loves people, He tests them, and whoever accepts it gains the pleasure of Allah and whoever complains earns His wrath.’
In a post two days earlier he urged a friend to join the fight, writing: ‘Come join us akhi [brother].’ In the same month he wrote: ‘Wallahi [I swear to God] this place is amazing, make dua, ima start training soon. Trust the imaan of the ikhwa [brotherhood] here is on another level, trust Bashar [Al Assad} and the enemies of this deen [army] are finished soon, no way they can resist.
‘People from all over the world, from countries ive never heard of are here answering the call.’
Fellow combatant: Nasser Muthana, who went to the same Cardiff sixth-form as Reyaad, is one of the Britons who have been radicalised
Joining the extremists: This picture is understood to be Aseel Muthana, the 17-year-old younger brother of Nasser, who has travelled to the Middle East to fight
In a video, Khan declares: ‘What prevents you from obtaining martyrdom and the pleasure of your lord? Ask yourself what prevents you and keeps you behind. If it’s your wealth … when death reaches you and it’s a certainty, your wealth won’t be able to delay death.
‘Know that if you fear death, death will reach you anyway but it will be more painful for you. So death is what they fear for you, it will be worse.’
He adds: ‘The child who got beheaded for being a Muslim, it will be bought before you. The brothers that gave their lives, their bodies will be shown in front of you. Allah will ask, where were you?’
Security officials estimate that upwards of 400 people from Britain have travelled to Syria and that around two-thirds have returned, travelling there through Turkey, a common holiday destination.
South Wales police last night said: ‘We are increasingly concerned about the numbers of young people who have or are intending to travel to Syria to join the conflict.
‘Travelling abroad for the purpose of engaging in terrorist related activity is an offence and we will seek to prosecute anyone engaged in this type of activity.’
WAS YOUNG WELSH MUSLIM RADICALISED BY THE INTERNET?
The young Welsh muslim in a terror-recruiting video that has stunned his family was radicalised over the internet, a senior figure at his mosque has said.
Muslims in Cardiff were in shock yesterday as former medical student Nasser Muthana, 20, from Cardiff, was revealed to be one of the men in a video posted posted from Syria by accounts with links to Islamist militant group ISIS.
A second man from Cardiff is also believed to be in the video urging young British muslims to join the fight in Syria alongside Muthana’s younger brother Aseel, 17.
Saleem Kidwai, general secretary of the leading Muslim body, said he believed there were as many as five Welsh muslims already fighting in Syria and Iraq with the now-outlawed terror group Isis.
The mosque where Muthana worshipped yesterday denied being a source of radicalism and said that young people were being turned to extremism through the internet.
Barak Albayaty, a trustee at the mosque, the Al Manar Centre, said that Muthana had been ‘just like any other guy’ and he had been shocked to see him in the video.
He said: ‘What I’m sure of, being part of here, it’s not to be taken as a source of radicalism.
‘We’re against going to Syria for the armed struggle and have spelt this out on many occasions.’
Al Qaeda is old news. Get ready for an ISIS backlash in the UK, says founder of anti-extremist think tank
By MAAJID NAWAZ, CHAIRMAN OF QUILLIAM
There is a new standard for global jihad. Through skilled publicity – in particular the professional use of social media – unprecedented brutality and conquest on the ground, ISIS has outmanoeuvred just about everyone, especially Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda’s ageing leader.
When 800 jihadis can defeat 30,000 Iraqi soldiers, there is only one explanation that rings true for potential jihadis everywhere: God is on their side.
It is now likely that malcontents from all over the world will flock to ISIS as the true heirs to Bin Laden’s legacy, bringing bloodshed and sectarian savagery on an unprecedented scale – and creating a new nerve centre to export terror to the West.
Underlying: Britain has up to 500 citizens fighting in Syria, while a number of others have joined ISIS, suggesting there is a residual extremist tendency among a small number of citizens
The rise of ISIS in Iraq is a wider threat to the stability of the Middle East and the West than many realise. Al Qaeda is now yesterday’s news.
What we do next is crucial. Our action or inaction can easily make the situation worse. ISIS is ‘blow-back’ from our confused policy in Syria as much as it is from the invasion of Iraq, where the sectarian prime minister Nouri al-Maliki inadvertently facilitated ISIS by purging his government of
Sunni Arabs, providing them with every reason to stand aside and watch as ISIS went on the rampage.
The greatest challenge is how to tackle the growing crisis.
First of all, direct Western military intervention would be extremely unwise in the current climate. That would be the greatest possible clarion call to unite jihadists under the ISIS banner.
Britain has up to 500 citizens fighting in Syria. Such high numbers do not emerge from a vacuum.
There is a residual atmosphere of sympathy in which aspiring jihadists incubate. Any Western attack would almost certainly resurrect domestic sympathies for extremism.
Instead, we must adopt a regional and pragmatic strategy, exercising what influence we can over our allies in the Middle East. We must persuade neighbouring Sunni Muslims from Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf to fight.
Were Sunni Muslims to take the lead in defeating ISIS, they would help undermine the myth of a noble jihad against infidels.
And we must support the Iraqi forces. But our support for Mr Maliki must be conditional on his reaching a settlement with Iraqi Sunnis, while the secular Kurdish Peshmerga must be encouraged to reconsider adding pressure on ISIS.
Training and logistical support could be provided, but at the moment this is a regional fight. It is imperative that it remains so.
But there are already thousands of foreign fighters who have joined ISIS. Western countries must prepare for an ISIS backlash as these fighters return home. These battle-hardened fighters require little consistent logic to attack us.
It would be naive in the extreme to assume otherwise. The sad fact is we are woefully unprepared.
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