News / Middle East

British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

British Fighters on Frontline of ISIS Information Wari
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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.
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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.

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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.

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