He has been described as one of Isis’s greatest assets in the UK, making TV appearances on the BBC, Channel 4 and international networks as a British Muslim who recognised and wanted to live in the “caliphate” formed across Iraq and Syria.
Now, the Anjem Choudary supporter and media darling Abu Rumaysah has apparently got his wish, if British prosecutors are right that he has skipped bail to travel to Syria with his family and four children.
The 31-year-old, who is also known as Siddhartha Dhar, has frequently been pictured alongside Choudary and appeared at events with the radical preacher.
He was arrested on 25 September along with eight other men, including Choudary, on suspicion of being a member of and supporting the banned group al-Muhajiroun, as well as of encouraging terrorism.
Just weeks earlier he appeared in an interview on Channel 4 News to say he would be willing to denounce his British citizenship in order to go out to Syria and live in what he called “the Islamic State”, under “the Shariah”.
According to the Mail, Rumaysah was bailed from Westminster Magistrates Court on the condition that he hand in his passport.
And less than 24 hours later he was gone, the newspaper reported, quoting prosecutors as saying he “failed to comply with the conditions to surrender his travel documents to police”. “It’s my understanding that he is no longer in the jurisdiction and that he is currently in Syria,” prosecutor Luke Ponte reportedly explained.
The reports that Rumaysah has now made his way to the territories controlled by Isis emerged, the Mail said, from a bail hearing where Choudary and others requested to have their own passports returned. The request was denied.
On his Twitter feed, the radical preacher quoted the report in the Daily Mail that “brother Abu Rumaysah and his family managed to escape and is currently in Syria”.
When he spoke to Channel 4 News in August, Rumaysah said that he “would love to live under the Islamic State and under the Shariah”. “I hope that one day Britain gets to live under the Shariah as well,” he added.
Reacting to the news that Rumaysah has reportedly left the country, Charlie Winter, a spokesperson for the counter-extremism thinktank Quilliam, said he would be “both surprised and not surprised”.
“His intentions have long been known, but I didn’t think he would actually follow through with them,” Mr Winter said. “He was a very important figure for Isis in the West – his constant presence in the media was very valuable.”
Rumaysah’s apparent ability to escape after being released on bail was “ridiculous”, Mr Winter said. “They weren’t anticipating him doing this. It seems like there’s a gaping hole to stop people going out there.”
The fact that he reportedly brought his family suggested it was unlikely Rumaysah was going out to fight – but simply going out to live there could be seen as a way of “contributing” to life under Isis, Mr Winter said.
“Isis are calling for people who aren’t necessarily soldiers to go there and populate the area, to make it into a society. There are more and more accounts of people going out and taking their family.”
The Metropolitan Police confirmed it was “working to establish” where Rumaysah had gone.
In a statement, it said: “[Police] arrested a 31-year-old man on 25 September.
“He was arrested on suspicion of being a member of a proscribed organisation, supporting a proscribed organisation and encouraging terrorism.
“He was bailed to a date in January next year with bail conditions. Police are now working to establish his whereabouts.”
Former shadow home secretary David Davis told the Mail the fact police had apparently let Rumaysah escape “beggars belief”, adding that it seems “at best careless and at worse a terrible error of judgment”.