A 23-year-old British Muslim from Portsmouth who went to fight against the Assad regime in Syria has been killed, his family have confirmed.
Ifthekar Jaman left his Hampshire home earlier this year to join the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) group. He gave an interview to BBC’s Newsnight programme last month and said that he was in Syria “fighting a holy war”. You can watch the interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPTSw-cC4UQ&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Jaman died over the weekend although the circumstances of his death are yet to be revealed.
In his last posts on Twitter, Jaman said: “A man leaves his home to fight for the oppressed people sounds heroic until you add in ‘Muslim Man’, then he’s a terrorist/extremist. That is the view of the West. Osama Bin Laden was known as a hero when he went…to fight against the Soviets.”
In the Newsnight interview, Jaman said: “I am ISIS. This is the group I am with. We are trying to establish the law of God, the law of Allah. This is the duty on me. All these people are suffering. Muslims are being slaughtered. God says he’ll bring the best believers here.”
It’s thought that hundreds of Muslims from Britain have traveled to Syria for jihad in the last few years since the uprising against Bashar al Assad broke out.
Reacting to his death, prominent Islamic preacher Khalid Yasin said: “A brother very dear to my heart has been martyred protecting his Muslim brothers in Syria. It seems like just yesterday he was telling me stories of his adventures in Syria. Subhana’Allah, Allah only chooses a few to reach the high rank of a martyr in Islam, and Allah chose someone who I feel it is an honour to call my friend brother Abu AbdulRahman al-Britaani. May Allah accept his martyrdom, forgive his sins, and grant his family patience.”
Meanwhile, Jaman’s cousin from Portsmouth who wishes to remain anonymous said: “Innalillahi wa innailaihi rajiun, mixed feelings for my cousin and his family, one of hope and one of sadness. Hope, that Allah accepts him as a shaheed inshaAllah and sadness, that the Ummah has lost one of her lions. Let’s use this as a reminder of our purpose in life, my cousin was given the opportunity to serve Allah in the most honourable way, and smiled at the meeting of His Lord. What state will we be in when we are called? Keep his family in your duas. MA they are very strong!”
“Allah knows what’s in our hearts…But I have to share this with you, after all the traumatic experience my cousins received by the community as a result of Ifthekar’s decision to leave, their conviction in Allah shined through MashAllah, and today his family came out stronger than ever after the loss of their son, truly inspiring MA, especially his mum who was smiling telling us that she feels at peace, we don’t need to worry about him anymore…her firmness in the Deen reminds me of Al Khansaa (ra), MashAllah. Feel proud to be related to such a family, may Allah keep them steadfast always and purify them through this experience.”
Jaman’s work colleague, James Thomas, said: “It is entirely likely that in reporting his death, the British tabloid press are going to wheel out the normal tired Islamic cliches – ‘Bearded’, ‘Hate preacher’, ‘insurgent’. They forget that they are talking about a man. A man who was well liked by those who knew him, and who desired to do the right thing according to his beliefs. Whilst I may not hold to the same beliefs, the courage he showed to follow his to the sad and premature end which he has reached is one thing indicative of Ifthekar. The other is the reaction of those who knew the man. My Facebook feed is currently filled with tributes, shock and sadness, all of it genuine, mourning a man who we considered a friend.”
Jaman’s work colleagues – who are predominantly non-Muslims – have organised a gathering outside Portsmouth Jamia Mosque to lay flowers in his memory.
Deputy editor of 5Pillarz, Dilly Hussain will be interviewing the brother of Ifthekar, Mustaqeem Jaman, next week to discuss the build-up to his brother departing for Syria and what he describes as the BBC’s misrepresentation of his account.