Footage has emerged of the first British jihadist to be killed in the Syrian civil war, in which he claims that his family in London supported his decision to join opposition forces fighting troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
The video of Ibrahim al Mazwagi, who was killed in February this year aged 21, shows recruits from a hardline Sunni militia called the Katiba al Muhajireen which includes hundreds of foreign fighters. It is estimated that there could be as many as 80 British jihadists in Syria, among as many as 700 Europeans.
In the footage, to be shown on Channel 4 News tonight and filmed by an American Muslim convert, Mazwagi can be seen conducting target practice and joining battles on the frontline. He justifies his decision to come to Syria and says: “Well I’ve always known about jihad, seen the Mujahideen on TV and everything.”
Later he adds: “We can’t accept enemies of Allah... killing us, abusing our religion, belittling it, taking our lands. So the Mujahideen, those who practice jihad, are those who defend the Muslims.”
Filmed over several months the young British jihadi fighter can be seen shooting weapons, going shopping, and joining a key battle for a Syrian army base called Sheik Suleiman in western Aleppo. At one point he’s asked if his mother knows where he is and replies: “I remember I called my mother once. I told her I am going on an operation tomorrow.” She said: ‘Make sure you’re not at the back. Go to the front.’” Laughing, he adds: “I don’t think my mother loves me that much. No I’m joking. She must love me for her to say that.”
The Katiba al Muhajireen, now part of a jihadi alliance, is compromised mostly of Chechen and Russian fighters but there are many other recruits from America, Sweden, Britain and across Europe. Members of the militia are shown carrying a black jihadi flag associated with al-Qa’ida.
In the film, Mazwagi is seen preparing to marry a Muslim woman from Sweden and goes to choose a sheep for slaughter for his wedding banquet. Later he is shown on his wedding day celebrating with a group of well-armed jihadists, many in combat fatigues and balaclavas. Mazwagi’s father said after his death that he had no idea about his son’s activities, claiming he thought he had been doing charity work in Syria.