Abdullah Deghayes: My son was the martyr of a just cause, says father of British teenager killed in Syria conflict

 

The father of an 18-year-old Brighton man killed while fighting alongside his brothers with rebel forces in Syria has said his son was "a martyr" who died "for a just cause".

Abdullah Deghayes, who left the UK for Syria with his 16-year-old brother Jaffar in January, is thought to have been killed in combat within the past few weeks, shortly after his 18th birthday. His older brother, Amer, 20, who is understood to have gone to fight in Syria after joining an aid convoy to the region last year, has also been wounded, the boys' father Abubaker Deghayes said.

Mr Deghayes said that the brothers had gone to Syria "of their own free will" without the consent of their parents, but had not been in contact with any groups encouraging young Muslims to fight in Syria.

Yesterday, the brothers' aunt told of how their mother had been "distraught" to discover that Abdullah and Jaffar had gone missing, later discovering that their passports were gone. 

"They are in contact with their mum," Amani Deghayes told The Independent. "Their dad says he has tried speaking to them, that he would tie them up and bring them back if he could."

Abdullah is the nephew of former Guantanomo Bay detainee Omar Deghayes, but Ms Deghayes said that though the brothers' decision to go to Syria had not been influenced by him but was "a symptom the current times".

Speaking outside his home in Brighton yesterday their father said he had "never encouraged" his sons to go and fight but felt "some comfort" knowing Abdullah had fought for a "just cause".

"The cause is to help those who are being bombed daily by Assad and killed by his bombings and air raids and soldiers for nothing except to ask for their freedom," he said. "I hope this was his intention, I hope he is rewarded and I hope he is in peace now."

Friends of Abdullah, who also has a twin brother, a younger brother and an older sister, reacted with shock at the news, with several posting messages on Facebook and Twitter. Ms Amani said that Abdullah had been a "charming, and very spirited" boy who had never appeared have been overtly "political".

Abdullah Deghayes is believed to have been killed earlier this month Abdullah Deghayes is believed to have been killed earlier this month
"The twins were really into exercise, and bodybuilding, and eating healthily," she said. "I remember they didn't want to eat any chocolate, they were so worried about their diet…He wasn't really a political boy. The twins were always very cheeky….I was really shocked [to hear they had gone to Syria]. He was really fun-loving, social, he had lots of friends."

She said that Abdullah's brother Amer, who was the first of the brothers to fight in Syria, had first gone to Turkey with an aid convoy in September. "Amer was really into his gym and building his muscles. The next thing I knew he was getting involved in serious stuff in Syria."

Amer is understood to have suffered a bullet wound in the stomach in the same battle in which Abdullah was killed. Although the brothers were said to have been in touch with their parents via Facebook, his current condition was not clear yesterday, but their father said that the youngest brother fighting in Syria, 16-year-old Jaffar, was "ok".

In total, it is believed that 400 British nationals have travelled to Syria since conflict broke out in early 2011, and of these 400, it is estimated 20 have died so far.

Omar Deghayes, who is currently in Tripoli, said he had only heard one eyewitness account of what happened to Abdullah.

He said: "Abdullah Deghayes was a young man full of life, he had a bright future ahead, he was just like any 18-year-old, but his heart was different.

"He couldn't sit still watching the news of the gross injustice taking place in Syria.

The Foreign Secretary William Hague yesterday reiterated warnings to British citizens not to travel to Syria and said fighters returning to the UK were an "increasing threat to our own national security".

"Where we are aware of people proposing to travel to Syria we can take action about it, including depriving people of their passports, including if they are people who are resident in the UK but not British nationals, the Home Secretary can cancel their leave to remain in the UK," he said.

Read more: 'We will be martyrs', say rebel fighters
Nations fail to honor financial pledges to Syrian refugees
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
News
peopleComedian launches stinging attack on PM
Life and Style
The collection displayed Versace’s softer side, with models wearing flowers and chiffon dresses in unusual colourings
fashionVersace haute couture review
Arts and Entertainment
'The Leaf'
artYes, it's a leaf, but a potentially very expensive one
News
Yoko Ono at the Royal Festival Hall for Double Fantasy Live
people'I wont let him destroy memory of John Lennon or The Beatles'
News
Could Greece leave the EU?
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'