News / Middle East

    British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

    British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information Wari
    X
    Henry Ridgwell
    August 22, 2014 8:24 PM
    Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke English on camera with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from the center of the investigation in London.
    Henry Ridgwell

    Security services are racing to identify the Islamic State militant who beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley in Syria. The murderer spoke on camera in English with a British accent. It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS, alongside thousands of other foreign jihadists.

    With a soundtrack citing verses of the Koran, a video uploaded on social media in June, purportedly by Islamic State militants, incites Muslims from across the world to come to Syria to fight.

    One of the militants -- who identifies himself as a British citizen named Abu Dujana Al Hindi -- speaks to the camera in English.

    “This is a message to the brothers who have stayed behind," he said. "You need to ask yourselves what prevents you from coming to the land of Izza? [honor], What prevents you from joining the ranks of the Mujahedeen?”

    FILE - This undated file still image from video released April 7, 2011, by GlobalPost, shows James Foley of Rochester, N.H., a freelance contributor for GlobalPost, in Benghazi, Libya.FILE - This undated file still image from video released April 7, 2011, by GlobalPost, shows James Foley of Rochester, N.H., a freelance contributor for GlobalPost, in Benghazi, Libya.
    x
    FILE - This undated file still image from video released April 7, 2011, by GlobalPost, shows James Foley of Rochester, N.H., a freelance contributor for GlobalPost, in Benghazi, Libya.
    FILE - This undated file still image from video released April 7, 2011, by GlobalPost, shows James Foley of Rochester, N.H., a freelance contributor for GlobalPost, in Benghazi, Libya.

    The gruesome beheading of American journalist James Foley was carried out by a man with a British accent. Foreign fighters are a valuable asset for the Islamic State, said terror expert Hannah Stuart of The Henry Jackson Society, a British-based policy group.

    “They might not be the best fighters, but they are the best people in an information war. You can put them on camera and recruit widely from among Muslims in Western Europe," said Stuart.

    That James Foley’s killer had a British accent was no accident, said American filmmaker Bilal Abdul Karim, who has documented the rise in foreigners fighting in Syria.

    "When Brits or Europeans or Westerners appear in the group they are very keen to put them on camera so that they can push their narrative. The reason why a British voice is used for this is because they knew the impact a British voice would make," said Karim, in reference to the fact that hearing a British voice may be a lure for potential recruits.

    After starting out as a militant group fighting local conflicts, the Islamic State is now seeking international recognition, said Afzal Ashraf of the Royal United Services Institute.

    “What they want is to spread their ideology. They want recognition. They want support. And they will want to get that recognition and support from across the world but particularly from Western countries," said Ashraf.

    Another online video from February purports to show a British fighter in Aleppo carrying out a suicide bomb attack on a prison.

    Extremist ideologies

    Britain has been slow to counter extremist ideologies, according to  Harris Rafiq of the counter-extremism group the Quilliam Foundation.

    "London historically over the last few decades has had Islamist ideology from groups like the Muslim Brotherhood being taught openly without being challenged," said Rafiq.

    Authorities in Britain and the United States are trying to identify James Foley’s killer. The Islamic State’s use of online technology provides opportunities for security services says Professor Peter Neumann, of the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College London.

    "They will speak to other foreign fighters on Twitter, on Facebook, on Whatsapp, on Skype and of course the intelligence services are monitoring these conversations," noted Neumann.

    British authorities have appealied to Muslim communities to help identify James Foley’s killer, but acknowledge that bringing him to justice will be extremely difficult.

    You May Like

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Mali, a Way Station for Syrians Headed to Europe

    Another door may be closing for Syrians fleeing the conflict in their country, this time in Africa

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: larrypoke@gmail.com from: USA
    August 22, 2014 10:57 PM
    Enough is enough. Let's not waste time trying to single out one of these radical Muslim thugs. Let's bring them all to their knees. To hell with "political correctness".

    by: Anonymous
    August 22, 2014 10:49 PM
    USA should just conquer these countries and start from the ground up and destroy this evil.

    by: Glen Nelson from: Knoxville, Tn
    August 22, 2014 10:29 PM
    Typical terrorist - afraid to come to us and face the people - they have to do things at a distance - they are cowards - they use women and children or people like reporter - they will not face real warriors as they will be beaten - one on one they are wimps - they cannot beat an American soldier without outnumbering them 100 to 1 - they are cowards to do anything except bomb buildings or kill unarmed people, children and women - cowards and wimps that is all ISIL is - they will not face the enemy up front and personal - wimps and idiots - I am not afraid or will not run from one of you - you are just like the people in Missouri - need a crowd to win - cannot do it alone - that means you are no better than a fly on the wall - come and get it coward
    In Response

    by: Ekim from: Colorado
    August 23, 2014 12:32 PM
    The beautiful world just destroyed by those people...

    by: Anonymous
    August 22, 2014 5:20 PM
    James Foley is a great hero. all of usa should proud of him. i m so sad and angry for him be killed by ISIS !

    by: af from: kjdj
    August 22, 2014 3:56 PM
    VOA is using the SAME PROPAGANDA picture of these two men with the flags, as they did eight weeks ago. SAME PICTURE!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT A JOKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    August 22, 2014 2:26 PM
    Bringing him to justice will be extremely difficult not just because it may be difficult to identify him but because even the government is too sympathetic to islamic reasoning. To have allowed Muslim Brotherhood to have free leverage in London and recruit extremist operatives is not just by accident, though the government hides behind the ideology of freedoms. But it is easy to see through all of that by the tremendous support the islamist Hamas receives from the British government, especially since Cameron, to the detriment of some EU member states at loggerheads with those extremist missions.

    One does not need to go too far to find out that the threat of isolation of Israel in the EU is spearheaded by Britain for no other reason than preference for the Arabs over the Jews. And that tends toward one goal - extreme views and fundamentalist approach leading to the Nigerian Michael Adebowale&co butchering a service soldier on the streets of London with impunity. What is behind his boldness and arrogance? He did not learn it in Nigeria even though we have produced another world class terrorist in Abumutalab (the under-pant bomber). That one was also radicalized in Britain.

    It is little wonder that Britons can be that heartless to commit such gruesome murder of its brotherly nation USA, as Britain was the first to start questioning the rationale for George Bush's war on terror, as in fact it was the first to start pulling out its soldiers that gave rein to Obama's impetus to withdraw American soldiers from the front lines fighting terror. Today terror has taken the front seat - the driving seat, and this appears like the devil showing his face to be the brain behind all of it. This is Britain.
    In Response

    by: Derrick Brain
    August 23, 2014 12:23 AM
    Freedom of worship has indeed been been abused along with associated problems which have far reaching repercussions, which is clearly evident. How the Government deals with it, is of paramount importance including the judicial system and citizenship. Radicalized British citizens are of a concern just as much as those of other Countries, so it is wrong to portray all British citizens as heartless murderers and to imply Britain is the cause, is devoid of all truth. On that subject Nigeria past history of internecine atrocities/civil war is a reminder of her past turbulence.

    by: Phillipe
    August 22, 2014 2:05 PM
    These are not the real "British Fighters" but individuals misguided and influenced to take up arms for a "just cause" and as such by their actions, place themselves squarely in the terrorist domain and their loyalty to the United Kingdom is of little consequence. Please do not refer to them as British, they are no longer deserving citizens and bring shame to England.

    by: Till Then
    August 22, 2014 12:46 PM
    "...bringing him to justice will be extremely difficult."

    That's what drones equipped with cluster bombs are for.
    In Response

    by: william li from: canada
    August 22, 2014 1:45 PM
    one being killed then hundred will follow him. America has been killing villagers with drones in Pakistan for years, but terrorists didnt seem to be less. killing innocent women and children only converts more ppl into "terrorists"

    by: Francis Higgins from: U.K.
    August 22, 2014 12:40 PM
    I'm not entirely convinced about his accent. For example when English is spoken by, say someone from the Philippines, the accent sounds American. I would suggest that, whoever he is, he could have picked up the accent from the source he was exposed to. There is also an underlying accent detectable to my ears.
    In Response

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    August 22, 2014 1:58 PM
    Hey, Francis Higgins from: U.K, I think you're driven by patriotism to look for ways to extricate your country from this evil. No qualms, though, it is your right to defend your country. But you should have allowed investigation to confirm he is not a Briton. If you ask me, I think the British have so much sympathy for and cleavage with islam, and I think very soon all of you out there are going to be islamized. Even on your soccer pitches and the stadiums, the leaning is palpable and deafening to hide.
    In Response

    by: padj from: california
    August 22, 2014 1:38 PM
    and i'm sure british intelligence is aware of the possibility.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora