Sister of ‘new Jihadi John’ suspect Siddhartha Dhar ‘still believes he’s a good man’

Konika Dhar tells a Commons select committee she ‘wants to believe he can be rehabilitated’

Adam Withnall
Tuesday 19 January 2016 16:13 GMT
Siddhartha Dhar holds an assault rifle and his infant son soon after his arrival in Syria
Siddhartha Dhar holds an assault rifle and his infant son soon after his arrival in Syria

The sister of a British man who is believed to have turned executioner for Isis says she “still believes he’s a good man”.

Giving evidence to MPs on Tuesday, Siddharthar Dhar’s younger sister Konika Dhar said she had still received no confirmation from UK authorities that the masked executioner seen in an Isis execution video was definitely her brother.

British officials have said Mr Dhar is the lead suspect in the hunt to identify the man, seen in a video threatening the UK before shooting a hostage in the back of the head.

Konika Dhar asked MPs: 'Is there anything I can do to help my brother?'
Konika Dhar asked MPs: 'Is there anything I can do to help my brother?' (Parliament TV)

And while Mr Dhar is known to have travelled to join Isis and has posted images to social media from Syria, she refused to associated him with the worst atrocities carried out by the jihadist group.

Ms Dhar said she refused to accept her brother was no longer the “good man” she had known him to be.

She told MPs from the Home Affairs Select Committee that she “wants to be believe he can be rehabilitated”.

“He may not come home, but I don’t want to give up on him,” she said. “I want him to return as the person I remember him to be. If that can’t happen then maybe I need to accept that, but I’m not ready to do that yet.”

In an apparent criticism of the government’s attempts to tackle extremism, Ms Dhar said she “didn’t know who to turn to” when her brother’s views on Islam hardened.

She said it “would have helped” if someone had intervened in Mr Dhar’s case earlier on, given he had appeared across TV channels expressing his support for Isis before he travelled to Syria.

Asked if she knew now who she could contact if she had concerns, she said she still “had not been directly informed” of new counter-extremism programmes the government has put in place.

And asked if she and her family had received any kind of support or counselling from the authorities since the video apparently showing her brother came out, she said "not formally, no".

Ms Dhar repeatedly struggled with questions from MPs trying to get to the bottom of why her brother turned to extremism, “betraying his family and his country”.

“He was fun-living, very laid back, very friendly with everyone,” she said. “I think it’s quite hard for me to even know within myself what it was that triggered him to become the person he is today. I wish I knew.”

At the end of the session, Ms Dhar asked if she was allowed to ask a question of her own. She said: "Is there anything I can do to help my brother?"

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