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