Could Britain have prevented ‘new Jihadi John’ from leaving?

January 6, 2016  

Opposition members in Britain’s parliament on Tuesday criticized the government for failing to prevent the man who could be the “new Jihadi John” from traveling to Syria to join Islamic State (ISIS) extremists despite the fact that he was charged with serious crimes.

The accusations, reported by The Associated Press (AP), came after British news media reports that the man who appeared in an ISIS video posted Sunday in which five purported spies were shot dead might be Siddhartha Dhar, also known by his Muslim name Abu Rumaysah.

While nobody has yet provided a firm link between Dhar and the video, a British Labour Party spokesman on terrorism said either way the government failed to properly monitor Dhar after he was freed on bail in 2014.

The spokesman, Andy Burnham, told parliament that a letter asking Dhar to surrender his passport was sent after he had already left for Syria.

“The system failed because it allowed him to go to Syria, even though he was well known to authorities and had been arrested six times on terror-related offenses,” Burnham said, according to AP.

Dhar, a Hindu who converted to Islam, taunted British authorities after his arrival in Syria, posting a photo of himself on social media with his baby son in one arm and an AK-47 assault rifle in the other.

“What a shoddy security system Britain must have to allow me to breeze through Europe,” he tweeted at the time.

Earlier on Tuesday, the BBC reported that investigations into the identity of the man featured in the ISIS video are focusing on Dhar.

It cited an unnamed official source as saying that Dhar was the main suspect, although Britain’s intelligence services never comment on the record about their investigations.

The video released by ISIS on Sunday featured a masked fighter carrying a gun and speaking English which showed the killing of five “spies” it said had worked with the international coalition fighting ISIS jihadists in Iraq and Syria. 

It also features a young boy wearing camouflage clothing and black headband, saying “We are going to go kill the kuffar (non-believers) over there” in what appears to be a British accent.

Prime Minister David Cameron later described the video as “desperate stuff” designed to deflect from recent losses by ISIS.

The masked figure, whether it is Dhar or not, appears to have stepped into the role formerly played by British citizen Mohammed Emwazi, who was killed by a drone strike in November after taking part in a series of ISIS’ beheading videos, earning him the nickname “Jihadi John.”

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