The young child who features in the latest Islamic State execution video has been stated by his grandfather to be Isa Dare, aged six, from Lewisham. He was taken from south-east London to Syria by his mother in 2012.
The boy is believed to be the son of Grace Dare, a former Christian from Lewisham who converted to Islam and took the name Khadija. Dare was among the first Britons to join the terror organisation. She has in the past spoken of her desire to become “the first UK woman to kill a Westerner”. Last year she tweeted a photo of Isa, which is the name Arabic-speakers use for Jesus, aiming an AK-47 with a smile.
In the latest Islamic State murder video, the boy appears with a black headband with the white Islamic State logo on the front, wearing Islamic State fatigues. He says, pointing with his left hand: “We will kill kuffars over there.” Kuffars are those condemned as non-believers, or infidels, by Islamists.
Lewisham council officials are working with Scotland Yard in connection with the child, dubbed “Jihadi Junior” in media reports. A council spokesman told the Standard: “We are in liaison with police and are deeply concerned that there may be any connection between these abhorrent acts and our community.”
Ms Dare’s father Henry Dare told the Telegraph: “I was surprised when I saw the picture. It’s definitely him. Of course I’m worried but there’s nothing I can do now. I’m not angry – I would never have expected it. I just hope someone is trying to bring them back.”
He also told Channel 4: “When she calls me I keep ignoring her calls because she has brought shame to my family and to herself.” About Isa, he added: “He doesn’t know anything, he’s a small boy. They are just using him as a shield.”
Grace Dare, who as a child went to a Catholic school but was radicalised online and want on to attend mosque in Lewisham, was married to Abu Bakr, a Swedish convert to Islam who also attended a London mosque and who has reportedly been killed in Syria. The couple had at least one other son, who is believed now to be aged two.
Siddhartha Dhar, 32, a father-of-four from Walthamstow, is believed to be a possible suspect for the hooded man in the video. A former Hindu who worked as a bouncy-castle salesman, he converted to Islam and joined the banned group al-Muhajiroun which is linked to the 7/7 bombings and the Lee Rigby murder. However The Times reported that the voice inflexions in the video did not match what is known of Dhar. He was arrested in September 2014 on suspicion of encouraging terrorism. Within 24 hours of being bailed, he fled with his family to Syria.
British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday visited Barking Riverside in East London where he condemned the video as “desperate stuff”.
The 11-minute video showed the murder of five hostages accused of being UK spies during air strikes by the US-led coalition in Syria and Iraq and included a “message for David Cameron” by a masked man with a British-sounding accent. The man also made threats about attacks in the UK.
Cameron said: “It’s desperate stuff from an organisation that really does do the most utterly despicable and ghastly acts and people can see that again today.
“This is an organisation that’s losing territory, it’s losing ground, it’s, I think, increasingly losing anybody’s sympathy, and this again shows what an appalling organisation we’re up against.”
He said that IS hates the UK because of the country being “a successful, tolerant, democratic, multi-faith, multi-ethnic nation”.
He continued: “But I know that Britain will never be cowed by this sort of terrorism. Our values are so much stronger than theirs. It may take a very long time but they will be defeated.”
RAF aircraft have taken part in 11 airstrikes against IS targets in Syria since Parliament voted on the extension of the military operation from Iraq in early December.
The security services say they are looking for 300 Britons known to have travelled to Syria and Iraq since 2012 to join terrorist-related activities and who are still active.