Former Premier League player Lassana Diarra has denied rumours on social media that he travelled to Syria to fight jihad against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
The Lokomotiv Moscow midfielder “denies in the most formal, the most categoric, the most absolute fashion that he has gone to Syria,” said Diarra’s lawyer Eric Dupond Moretti.
“He has never set foot in Syria. It’s absurd. He is not a jihadist, he is a footballer with Lokomotiv Moscow,” the lawyer added.
It was rumoured this week that Diarra, who used to play for Chelsea, Arsenal and Portsmouth, had gone to Syria where the war is now into a fourth year and has cost the lives of over 150,000 people, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Diarra, who was a member of the Real Madrid squad that won the Spanish league title in 2012, last played for France in 2010.
Abu Issa Andaluzi
A former Arsenal footballer who “grew up with Cristiano Ronaldo” is allegedly fighting with the Syrian rebels against Bashar al-Assad.
The man, who is said to have rejected a life of money and fame in Europe, was filmed in two videos posted on a jihadi website in which he addresses Muslims from around the world to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syra (ISIS).
He is depicted wearing a black mask covering most of his face, holding what appears to be an AK-47 as he talks to the audience in a heavily accented English.
The text around the video on the site, claims that the man ‘”grew up with Ronaldo, played for Arsenal and left football, money and European way of life in order to make the path of Allah”. It also says he was originally from Portugal and turned to Islam two years ago.
During the first of two four-minute posts, he is introduced in the English subtitles as “Abu Issa Andaluzi” from Sham.
He then goes on to say: “My advice to you is that we are in need of all types of help from those who can help us in fighting the enemy.
“Welcome, come and join us and from those who think that they cannot fight they should also come and join us because it maybe that they can help us in something else, for example help with medicine, help us financially, help us with with advice, help with any other qualities they may have and any other skills they might have, and they can give and pass on this knowledge, and we can take whatever is beneficial and that way they will participate in jihad.”
Arsenal FC are currently investigating the claims that the man is a former player at the club but a spokesman told the national press: “We do not recognise the individual from the published clips and we don’t have any record of a (person of this name) representing the club at any level.”