Dead Bri­tish ji­hadist’s son alive and fight­ing in Iraq for Isis

The Dominion Post - - World -

SYRIA: The son of Lon­don woman Sally Jones, who be­came Bri­tain’s most wanted woman af­ter join­ing Is­lamic State, did not die in the air strike that killed his mother and is likely to be still alive, Syr­ian sources say.

Joe, known as ‘‘JoJo’’, 12, was not with Jones when a con­voy she was trav­el­ling in was struck by a CIA Reaper drone in June.

Ac­cord­ing to wit­nesses, who re­quested anonymity to pro­tect their safety, the boy was about 60 kilo­me­tres away in the vil­lage of al-Shaafa, near Syria’s east­ern bor­der with Iraq.

He was sep­a­rated from his mother soon af­ter Jones’s hus­band Ju­naid Hus­sein was killed in a 2015 raid.

When he turned 12 last De­cem­ber, Isis con­sid­ered him of fight­ing age and con­scripted him into its ranks, ac­cord­ing to two dif­fer­ent sources.

JoJo, who was given the Is­lamic name Hamza, un­der­went sev­eral months of train­ing in Isis’s ‘‘cubs of the caliphate’’ camps in north­ern Syria in early 2016. The last­known pho­to­graph of him shows the boy wear­ing an Afghanstyle smock dur­ing train­ing last year in Raqqa.

‘‘For­eign fighters, mostly Turk­ish, took Joe and some other Western chil­dren from Raqqa to Deir Ez­zor prov­ince in April to pro­tect them, as they are the fu­ture of the caliphate,’’ one res­i­dent of al-Shaafa who re­cently fled said.

They were moved in an­tic­i­pa­tion of a United States-backed of­fen­sive to re­cap­ture Raqqa, which was launched in June.

‘‘They weren’t us­ing them as hu­man shields, as some peo­ple say, be­cause the pres­ence of chil­dren does not stop the coali­tion from bomb­ing,’’ the res­i­dent said.

JoJo was last seen in al-Shaafa three weeks ago, where he was liv­ing in a house with other chil­dren pro­tected by se­nior com­man­ders.

Jones, a 50-year-old punk rock singer turned ji­hadist, be­came Bri­tain’s most wanted woman af­ter flee­ing to Syria in 2013 to marry Hus­sain, an Isis fighter and com­puter hacker from Birmingham.

Jones had con­verted to Is­lam be­fore meet­ing Hus­sain online, and was a pro­lific re­cruiter.

She is be­lieved to have con­vinced hun­dreds of Bri­tish women to work for Isis, and in 2016 she called on fe­male sym­pa­this­ers back home to carry out ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

The Bri­tish gov­ern­ment con­firmed Jones’s death at the time the re­ports sur­faced in Oc­to­ber, but it could not say whether JoJo was killed in the drone strike.

The source said the group had come un­der pres­sure from Syr­ian troops in re­cent weeks, and it was thought many of its re­main­ing mem­bers had moved into the Iraqi desert.

If JoJo is still alive, he is in dan­ger of be­ing killed in fight­ing to re­take the last of Isis’s ter­ri­tory or be­ing cap­tured by Syr­ian forces or Ira­nian-backed mili­tias in Iraq.

Isis now con­trols only a few vil­lages and desert ar­eas north of Albu Ka­mal, and scat­tered pock­ets else­where in Syria and Iraq. A day af­ter los­ing Albu Ka­mal last Fri­day, it launched a coun­ter­at­tack in an at­tempt to cling to its last ur­ban bas­tion, manag­ing to re­take sev­eral neigh­bour­hoods.

– Tele­graph Group

Joe ‘‘JoJo’’ Jones

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