Five men who left Britain in October last year have been shown on CCTV footage leaving the UK to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group - under the guise of taking a vacation in Turkey.
The group, which called itself the Britani Brigade Bangladeshi Bad Boys, bought tickets on low-budget carrier Thomas Cook to the Turkish resort of Antalya in October, UK-based newspaper the Daily Mail reported.
The group’s members have been identified by British authorities as Muhammad Hamidur Rahman, 25, Mashadur Choudhury, 31, Assad Uzzaman, 25, Mehdi Hassan, 19, and Mamunur Roshid.
Now, 10 months later, Rahman, who had worked a shop assistant at cheap UK clothing chain Primark until he was sacked, is reportedly dead, slain in a gun battle last month, while Choudhury sits in a British prison cell, convicted of travelling to Syria to receive terrorist training, London-based The Telegraph reported.
British security services are keen to re-interview Mashudur Choudhury, as it is believed that he may have rubbed shoulders with the suspected killer of James Foley, a U.S. journalist whose videotaped beheading prompted a manhunt by UK authorities.
An investigation by The Telegraph, which was based on transcripts from Choudhury’s trial, and information on Twitter and other websites, examined the circumstances surrounding the group’s story.
Preachers and prostitutes
Choudhury, who once ran a Muslim youth group, is believed to be the ringleader. In the UK, he had worked for an insurance company and an in a local council. However, in the midst of a seemingly mundane lifestyle, he also scammed his family out of thousands of dollars.
In 2010, under the false pretense of needing medical treatment, he went to Singapore, where he spent the money his family had given him on prostitutes. He continued taking what he dubbed as “lad’s holidays” in Singapore and Morocco, yet also downloaded lectures by radical Islamic preachers.
Subsequently, Choudhury decided to join ISIS and help establish an “Islamic caliphate” in Syria, aided by Ifthekar Jaman, who had already left for Syria and gave advice to Choudhury.
Jaman advised Choudhury on what clothes to bring, on training, and life in general with ISIS.
“Do the mujahideen play footy and that?” Choudhury once asked.
When the five would-be jihadists arrived in Turkey, an intermediary took them over the Syrian border.
Now in Syria, instead of a embarking in a violent armed struggle, Choudhury was made to do mundane chores, such as cooking, washing and childcare in an improvised nursery.
Authorities believe that Choudhury failed ISIS training selection process and was sent home, only three weeks after arriving.
Upon his return, he was arrested on a tip to police from his local community. He is currently awaiting sentencing.
Around 30 UK citizens every month are now travelling to Syria and Iraq across the frontier – known by some as the “Jihad Express” - with the number increasing as ISIS gains more and more notoriety, according to the Daily Mail.SHOW MORE