At first glance, Harry Sarfo’s Instagram account could belong to many young men enjoying life in their mid-20s.
Smiling, he poses in restaurants, with friends, working out and even modelling clothes and chains in a throwback snap for an urban clothing brand.
But the seemingly carefree snapshots are interspersed with Islamic memes on prayer, sin, hell and the afterlife, hinting at the internal conflict that would eventually see him abandon Europe for Syria to live under the so-called Islamic State.
During his three months under the "caliphate", he trained as a fighter in its special forces and appeared in a propaganda video calling for European Muslims to join Isis or commit terror attacks at home.
But what caused a young German man, who grew up and studied in London, to join Isis?
Sarfo said he was lured in by videos that he then believed showed “unity under one flag...white, blacks, Asians and Arabs from all walks of life protecting the Sunni Muslims”.
The message spoke powerfully to the 27-year-old, who felt alienated and victimised after being repeatedly detained in Germany and put under surveillance by intelligence agencies.
He had an unsettled childhood that saw him move from Bremen's Osterholz-Tenever district to London as a teenager after his father left the family.
Possessing only lower-tier qualifications from Year 9 at his German secondary school, he enrolled at an English course at Leyton Sixth Form College in September 2005.
Despite being brought up by his Ghanaian parents as a Catholic, Sarfo said he felt a burgeoning interest in Islam and started attending speeches on the religion during every break.
“Mr Sarfo may have listened regularly to some of his fellow students talking about Islam but formal talks and debates organised by the Islamic Society had all topics approved and monitored by senior staff, and took place perhaps twice or thrice a year,” a spokesperson for Leyton College said.
When he moved on to study construction at Newham College of Further Education for three years, Sarfo said one of his best friends, of Bangladeshi origin, started to become more religious and started long debates about religion and purpose.
“I decided for myself that Islam is the religion that my heart is beating for,” Sarfo said. “I accepted Islam by the age of 20, in a small mosque by Bow in east London where friends of mine regularly attended.”
At the time he was working at a branch of Wickes in Edmonton and later joined Royal Mail to work as a postman in the Holloway area, while living in north London.
Sarfo, who started to go by the name Bilal, was already using his weekends to speak to Muslim youth groups “about a life in crime and the life of Muslim men – how we should behave ourselves and not become criminals”.
But his former links to crime in Germany would come back to haunt him and after he completed a course in housing at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (Conel) he was charged with involvement in a 2010 armed robbery, which had seen Sarfo and a group of friends steal €23,500 (£18,300) from a supermarket and jet to Gran Canaria to spend it.
Sarfo was sentenced to two years imprisonment for his part in the heist and found himself in a Bremen jail with René Marc Sepac, an al-Qaeda-linked radical jailed for spreading jihadist propaganda.
“I learned the ideology of Tawheed and Jihad, which changed my whole understanding of Islam,” Sarfo said. “I served one year and after I got released, I started to visit a mosque which was known for its extreme views.”
At the now-closed Furqan Mosque, Sarfo's radicalisation continued as fellow worshippers started disappearing to Syria.
In April 2014, he attempted the journey for the first time himself, reaching the Turkish city of Gaziantep before being arrested and deported back to Germany at the border.
Sarfo insisted that, on that occasion, he was not attempting to join Isis and was joining British friends who “regularly” delivered donations on charity runs to Syria as it continued to be ravaged by civil war.
German authorities failed to believe his story and confiscated his passport, put him under surveillance and ordered him to report to a police station twice a week.
“They thought I was a terror suspect,” Sarfo said, but claimed he had no contact with extremists in the following months as he got married and attempted to settle down.
But rumours had spread and the couple were ostracised by neighbours, having their bell rung at night as armed police launched successive raids on their home.
As Sarfo's sense of alienation grew, the man he would later join to travel to Syria with started urging him to join Isis.
"My friend kept on telling me: ‘This is what you get for being Muslim in the West...you are black and Muslim, your wife is covered, what do you expect? They think you are a bloody terrorist. You should go and live in the Islamic State, where every Muslims’ rights are protected'," Sarfo recalled.
"At the time, everything he said made sense. "
After being detained again, Sarfo followed the advice.
“I didn’t feel like a man anymore, my neighbours stopped greeting me in the place I wanted to start a new life for me and my wife,” he said.
“The police and the authorities destroyed it. They made me become the man they wanted.”
Similar arguments have been made by several convicted extremists, alongside their families, friends and supporters.
Mohammed Emwazi, the British Isis militant known as Jihadi John, was memorably described by the Cage advocacy group as a “beautiful young man” before being subjected to what it characterised as four years of “harassment” by security agencies.
Like Sarfo, he was repeatedly searched, detained and deported, feeling increasingly victimised by the UK, which failed to recruit him as an informant.
Charlie Winter, a terrorism analyst, said blaming security services has become a “standard refrain” in the current discourse on extremism, especially from “from individuals who are trying to blame others for the choices they have made”.
Timeline: The emergence of Isis
Timeline: The emergence of Isis
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (pictured here) forms an al-Qaeda splinter group in Iraq, al-Qa’eda in Iraq. Its brutality from the beginning alienates Iraqis and many al-Qaeda leaders.
Al-Zarqawi is killed in a U.S. strike. Al-Zarqawi’s successor, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, announces the creation of the Islamic State in Iraq (ISI).
Still al-Qaeda-linked ISI claims responsibility for suicide bombings that killed 155 in Baghdad, as well as attacks in August and October killing 240, as President Obama announces troop withdrawal from Iraq in March.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi becomes head of ISI, at lowest ebb of Islamist militancy in Iraq, which sees last U.S. combat brigade depart.
In Syria, protests (pictured here starting in Daree) have morphed into what president Assad labelled a “real war” with emergence of a coalition of forces opposed to Assad’s regime. Syria group Jabhat al-Nusra are among rebel groups who refuse to join, denouncing it as a “conspiracy”. Bombings targeting Shia areas, killing more than 500 people, spark fears of new sectarian conflict. Sunni Muslims stage protests across country against what they see as increasingly marginalisation by Shia-led government.
Al-Baghdadi renames ISI as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or Isis, as the group absorbs Syrian al-Nusra, gaining a foothold in Syria. In response, al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri (Bin Laden’s successor) concerned about Isis’ expansion orders that Isis be dissolved and ISI operations should be confined to Iraq. This order is rejected by al-Baghdadi.
7/40 2014 - January
Isis fighters capture the Iraqi cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, giving them base to launch slew of attacks further south.
8/40 2014 - June
Isis declares itself the Caliphate, calling itself Islamic State (IS). The group captures Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city; Tal Afar, just 93 miles from Syrian border; and the central Iraqi city of Tikrit. These advances sent shockwaves around the world.
9/40 2014 - June
Around the same time Isis releases a video calling for western Muslims to join the Caliphate and fight, prompting new evaluations of extremists groups social media understanding.
10/40 2014 - June
Isis take Baiji oil fields in Iraq - giving them access to huge amounts of possible revenue.
11/40 2014 - August
James Foley is executed by the group as concerns grow for second American prisoner, fellow reporter Steven Sotloff.
12/40 2014 - August
Obama authorises U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, helping to stall Isis’ along with action by Kurdish forces following the deaths of hundreds of Yazidi people on Mount Sinjar.
13/40 2014 - September
Isis release video showing Steven Sotloff’s murder prompting Western speculation his executioner is same man who killed Mr Foley.
14/40 2014 - September
Obama tells us that America “will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country”
15/40 2014 - September
Isis release a video appearing to show David Haines, who was captured by militants in Syria in 2013, wearing an orange jumpsuit and kneeling in the desert while he reads a pre-prepared script. It later shows what appears to be the aid worker's body.
16/40 2014 - September
Peshmerga fighters scrabble to hold positions in the Diyala province (a gateway to Baghdad) as Isis fighters continue to advance on Iraqi capital.
17/40 2014 - October
Aid worker Alan Henning is killed. Self-imposed media blackout refuses to show images of him in final moments, instead focuses upon humanitarian care.
18/40 2014 - October
Isis raise their flag in Kobani, which had been strongly defended by Kurdish troops. The victory goes against hopeful western analysis Isis had overextended itself, while alienating much of the Muslim population through the murder of Henning. Victory causes fresh waves of Kurdish refugees arriving in Turkey.
19/40 2014 - November
American hostage, who embarced values of Islam, Peter Kassig and 14 Syrian soldiers are shown meeting the same fate as other captives. But intelligence agencies will be poring over the apparently significant discrepancies between this and previous films.
20/40 2015 - February
Isis has released a video revealing the murder by burning to death of a Jordanian pilot held by the group since the end of December 2014.
21/40 2015 - February
Isis militants have released videos which appear to show the beheading of Japanese hostages Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto.
22/40 2015 - February
American aid worker, Kayla Mueller was the last American hostage known to be held by Isis. She died, according to her captors, in an airstrike by the Jordanian air force on the city of Raqqa in Syria, though US authorities disputed this.
23/40 2015 - February
Isis militants have posted a gruesome video online in which they force 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian hostages to kneel on a beach in Libya before beheading them. Egypt vowed to avenge the beheading and launched air strikes on Isis positions.
24/40 2015 - February
The British Isis militant suspected of appearing in videos showing the beheading of Western hostages has been named in reports as Mohammed Emwazi from London.
25/40 2015 - March
Isis triple suicide attack has killed more than 100 worshippers and hundreds of others were injured after the group members targeted two mosques in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa.
26/40 2015 - April
Iraqi forces have claimed victory over Isis in battle for Tikrit and raised the flag in the city.
27/40 2015 - April
Isis has claimed responsibility for a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan that killed at least 35 people queuing to collect their wages and injured 100 more.
28/40 2015 - April
Isis’ media arm released a 29-minute video purporting to show militants executing Ethiopian Christians captives. The footage bore the extremist group’s al-Furqan media logo and showed the destruction of churches and desecration of religious symbols. A masked fighter made a statement threatening Christians who did not convert to Islam or pay a special tax.
29/40 2015 - May
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Isis has been "incapacitated" by a spinal injuries sustained in a US air strike in Iraq. He is being treated in a hideout by two doctors from Isis’ stronghold of Mosul who are said to be "strong ideological supporters of the group".
30/40 2015 - May
Isis has also claimed responsibility for killing 300 of Yazidi captives, including women, children and elderly people in Iraq
31/40 2015 - May
Isis attack on Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest in Texas was its first action on US soil. Two gunmen were shot and killed after launching the attack at the exhibition. Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi have been named as the attackers at the Curtis Culwell Centre arena in Garland.
32/40 2015 - May
Isis’s deputy leader, Abu Alaa Afri, a former physics teacher who was thought to have taken charge of the deadly terrorist group, has been killed in a US-led coalition airstrike.
33/40 2015 - May
US special forces have killed a senior Isis leader named as Abu Sayyaf in an operation aiming to capture him and his wife in Syria.
34/40 2015 - May
Iran-backed militias are sent to Ramadi by the Iraqi government to fight Isis militants who completed their capture of the city. Government soldiers and civilians were reportedly massacred by extremists as they took control and the army fled. Charred bodies were left littering the city streets as troops clung on to trucks speeding away from the city. Ramadi is the latest government stronghold to fall to the so-called Islamic State, despite air strikes by a US-led international coalition aiming to stop its advance in Iraq and Syria.
35/40 2015 - May
Isis rounded up civilians trapped in Palmyra and forced them to watch 20 people being executed in the historic city’s ancient amphitheatre. The Unesco World Heritage site was overrun by militants, threatening the future of 2,000 year-old monuments and ruins. Thousands of Palmyra’s residents fled but many are still living within the city walls, while the UN human rights office in Geneva said it had received reports of Syrian government forces preventing people from leaving until they retreated from the city.
36/40 2015 - May
A group of Isis-affiliated fighters have captured a key airport in central Libya. The militants took control of the al-Qardabiya airbase in Sirte after a local militia tasked with defending the facility withdrew from their positions. Affiliates of Isis, already control large parts of Sirte, the birthplace of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and a former stronghold of his supporters.
37/40 2015 - June
The US Air Force has destroyed an Isis stronghold after an extremist let slip their location on social media. According the Air Force Times, General Herbert "Hawk" Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, said that Airmen at Hulburt Field, Florida, used images shared by jihadists to track the location of their headquarters before destroying it in an airstrike.
38/40 2015 - June
Kurdish forces captured a key military base in a significant victory in Raqqa as well as town of Tell Abyad. YPG fighters, backed by US-led airstrikes and other rebels, consolidated their gains, when they seized the key town on the Syria-Turkey border. They are now just 30 miles to the north of Raqqa and have cut off a major supply route deep inside Isis-held territory.
39/40 2015 - June
Isis has released gruesome footage claiming to show the murder of more than a dozen men by drowning, decapitation and using a rocket-propelled grenade as it seeks to boost morale among its fanatical supporters.
40/40 2015 - June
Isis has begun carrying out its threat to destroy structures in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, blowing up at least two monuments at the Unesco-protected site as Syrian government troops made advances on the Islamist’s positions.
Mr Winter, a senior research associate and terrorism analyst at the Georgia State University, said that although police treatment and alienation may have compounded existing grievances, it alone would not cause someone to embrace Isis ideology.
"There’s a chance it has some impact, probably compounding existing grievances he had, but the adoption of the ideology that Isis espouses did not come about because of the security services,” Mr Winter added.
“It’s clear that Sarfo possibly had a terrible time. A troubled person, petty crime, prison, a charismatic radical teacher – that’s a pattern that’s being repeated time and time against and it’s not very surprising.”
Sarfo travelled to join Isis in Syria in April 2015, training in its special forces before appearing in a propaganda video that called for German Muslims to wage jihad at home and abroad.
Claiming to be horrified with its brutality and fearing for his life, he fled the "caliphate" after three months and was arrested upon his return to Europe by police awaiting his arrival at Bremen Airport.
A spokesperson for the German federal prosecutor's office said he has been charged with being an Isis member, undergoing firearms training and appearing in propaganda urging Germans to travel to Syria or launch attacks at home.
The Home Office and German interior ministry declined to comment on Sarfo’s claims while the case continues.