British ISIS jihadist at Syrian prison camp demands return to the UK
British ISIS jihadist at Syrian prison camp demands he be allowed to return to the UK for ‘rehabilitation’
- Aseel Muthana, an ice cream seller, left Cardiff in Wales for Syria in 2013, aged 17
- Muthana was believed to have died until he resurfaced in a Syrian jail last year
- Now he says he wants to return to the UK to be rehabilitated, citing human rights
- He could now be the longest serving British ISIS member, having been a founder
A British ISIS jihadist held in a Syrian prison camp has demanded he be allowed to return to the UK for ‘rehabilitation’.
Aseel Muthana, an ice cream seller, left Wales for Syria in 2013, aged 17, following his brother Nasser and another friend in joining the jihadist group.
Muthana was with the group until its bloody last stand last year when they were finally defeated by western-backed Syrian forces in Bargouz.
His family feared he had died until Muthana resurfaced last year at a prison camp in northern Syria.
Now 24, Muthana has said in an interview with The Sunday Mirror that he should be allowed to return to the UK to be rehabilitated.
‘I feel abandoned by the UK. I have human rights. I should be rehabilitated,’ he said in an interview with the newspaper from his secret holding cell.
‘I mean, okay, let’s say I was a criminal – you can’t just leave me. It’s normal – for human rights. Even if I was a criminal I should be rehabilitated. Have some sort of contact with my family, my country.’
Aseel Muthana, (pictured) an ice cream seller, left Wales for Syria in February 2013, aged 17, following his brother Nasser and another friend in joining the jihadist group. Now, he is saying he should be allowed to return to the UK to be rehabilitated
Muthana said that he understands that were he to return to the UK, he would likely spend years in jail, but has had time to get his story straight ahead of the potential eventuality of standing trial.
His brother Nasser died in February 2016 in a drone strike, two years after the Islamic State caliphate was founded – of which the pair were founding members.
As a result, Muthana may well be the longest-serving British member of ISIS.
But in the interview, he attempted to play down his involvement with the caliphate, claiming that the Twitter account in his name – which posted pro-ISIS propaganda – was actually being posted by his brother.
He also claimed that he was not present for executions carried out by ISIS, but did express his regret that he never witnessed a rooftop execution – the horrific punishment given to homosexuals under Islamic State rule.
Recalling the day an execution occurred near his house, he said he was disappointing when he was told he ‘just missed’ someone being thrown off a roof.
He also said he regrets missing another incident in which six spies were crucified, their bodies being hung on posts of a roundabout shortly after, adding that he had seen so many gruesome executions that they almost became like entertainment.
Muthana also said that he was never a fighter – despite reports saying that he trained his own brother to use an AK-47 and taking part in a six-week ISIS boot camp.
‘I honestly, I have seen so much blood, senseless in a way. Of course you’re going to feel bad, people getting killed, it’s normal,’ he told the Mirror’s reporters.
‘I don’t justify any innocent killings or murders but when you see so much bloodshed on both sides. ISIS killing innocent people…I stopped having an opinion.’
His family feared he had died but Muthana resurfaced last year at a prison camp in northern Syria. Pictured left: Muthana has his back to the camera in an interview with an ITV correspondent at a Syrian jail last year
Muthana said he was just 50 feet away when his brother was killed in a drone strike, saying he understood the reason behind his killing – that he posed a threat to ‘the West and the UK, calling for attacks’.
Recalling the gruesome scene of the attack, he told The Mirror that his brother’s face was ‘smashed in’ and had shrapnel damage all over his body.
Muthana, however, did not go to the funeral, saying his brother was buried in Mosul.
Now, he says, after being witness to so much death, he is tired of running from it.
In 2019, Muthana told ITV news that he had travelled to Syria because he wanted to help the poor.
As a result of his brother’s death, Muthana may well be the longest-serving British member of ISIS having been one of the group’s founding members in 2014
‘Back then when I first came to ISIS, you have to understand I came way before the caliphate was pronounced,’ he said.
‘Before all of these beheading videos, before all of the burnings happened, before any of that stuff.
‘We came when ISIS propaganda and ISIS media was all about helping the poor, helping the Syrian people.’
The wave of widely publicised ISIS beheadings began later in 2014, when journalist James Foley and British aid worker David Haines were among numerous people murdered in propaganda videos broadcast by the terror group.
However, ISIS had its roots in extremist groups which had been using beheadings during the war in Iraq well before that.
Begging to come home in 2019 as well, Muthana said he missed his mother Umm Amin and his former life in the Welsh capital where he worked selling ice cream.
‘We stuck with the people you know from the UK and from Wales…. the Welsh guys… me and my brother and Reeyad,’ Muthana said.
Muthana’s comments on returning home come as Shamima Begum, who was 15 when she and two other schoolgirls flew to Syria in February 2015, is appealing against a government decision to strip her of her British citizenship.
Former London schoolgirl Shamima Begum, pictured, faces beatings and being kept in isolation if she tries to contact her legal team in London, the Supreme Court has heard
On Wednesday, her legal team told the Supreme Court about the difficulty in contacting their client, who is being held in a camp in Syria.
Her British citizenship was revoked on national security grounds shortly after she was found, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February last year.
Ms Begum, now 21 and currently in the al-Roj camp in northern Syria, where conditions are said by her lawyers to be ‘dire’, is challenging the Home Office’s decision to remove her British citizenship and wants to be allowed to return to the UK to pursue her appeal.
In July, the Court of Appeal ruled that ‘the only way in which she can have a fair and effective appeal is to be permitted to come into the United Kingdom to pursue her appeal’.
However, the Home Office argues that allowing her to return to the UK ‘would create significant national security risks’ and expose the public to ‘an increased risk of terrorism’.
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