Ex-punk rocker who turned her little boy into an IS fanatic
The pride in her face is that of any mum showing off her newborn baby. Smiling for the camera in the maternity suite of a Kent hospital as she cups tiny Joe in his blue Babygro, she was plain Sally Jones when the picture was taken in 2004.
There was nothing in the photo, which she sent to the ‘family album’ page of the local newspaper, to suggest the horrors that would unfold.
No hint that Sally Jones was to become a woman so twisted and devoid of humanity that a few years later she would snatch the innocent child from the life he loved in Britain, drag him to Syria and force him to join the jihad as a member of IS.
Nothing to indicate that the little boy would strike the world dumb with horror when, aged 11, he was seen in IS fatigues, holding a gun to a Kurdish prisoner’s head as he prepared to execute him.
Yet despite her happy pose in the maternity ward, Sally Jones’s life when the photograph was taken was already heading for the abyss.
She was drinking heavily and taking drugs, and was regularly visited by dealers at her two-bedroom council house in the Medway town of Chatham.
her relationship with Joe’s father, former forklift truck driver Darren Dixon, who is pictured with her, was short-lived and she was soon a single mum. She was also suffering from postnatal depression and spent much of her day in bed.
her work as a perfume saleswoman was sporadic at best and she claimed benefits — but she was so short of money she was constantly in debt and using food banks, with bailiffs calling at her door.
Before long she was dumping her little boy with her mother and stepfather, sometimes for weeks on end. With them, he enjoyed an idyllic family life.
Meanwhile, Jones’s lonely descent continued. her Kent neighbours paint a picture of a woman who was deeply unstable. And it was into this feckless, chaotic world that Islamic State came calling.
USINga cheap computer in her sitting room, Jones went on an internet dating site and met wouldbe terrorist and computer hacker Junaid hussain, a Birmingham school dinner lady’s wayward son who, at 19, was 25 years her junior. It was the start of the terrifying series of events that transformed Sally Jones into the world’s most wanted female terrorist and a dangerously efficient recruiter of British girls to the IS cause.
For hussain mesmerised her at once. Soon, she was telling neighbours that she had ‘fallen in love’ with a ‘Muslim guy’ who wanted to ‘do jihad’.
his computer expertise meant he had already fallen foul of the law and served a jail sentence for hacking into the personal email account of a former special adviser to Tony Blair and illicitly obtaining confidential addresses and phone numbers.
After pleading guilty to a further charge of violent disorder, he skipped bail and escaped from Britain to Syria. Jones, who was raised as a Roman Catholic, had converted to Islam earlier that year and, under the spell of hussain, was soon making plans to join him with nine-year-old Joe.
The little boy was frightened at the idea of leaving Britain. Joe loved being in his grandmother’s garden, playing with toys and looking out for foxes.
‘he loved animals and was so kind, he’d never even tread on an ant. That’s why his grandmother can’t understand what happened to him,’ said a family friend.
he had trouble sleeping and told his grandmother, who by then looked after him every weekend, that his mother was about to take him away.
When challenged by her, Jones lied. She said Joe had made a mistake and they were simply going on holiday to Turkey. In fact, they headed for Raqqa in Syria, hot on the heels of hussain.
Once there, Jones married her lover, changing her name to Sakinah hussain. Joe’s name was changed to hamza and he was forced to call hussain his ‘dad’.
hussain, who became head of the IS computer-hacking brigade, died in a U.S. drone strike two years ago. Jones tweeted how proud she was that he was ‘killed by the biggest enemy of Allah’, adding that she would ‘never love anyone but him’.
By this stage, blonde-haired Jones had become a notorious figure in her own right. She called herself Umm hussain Al-Britani, peddled vile IS propaganda into the UK via social media sites and was nicknamed ‘The White Widow’ by Western security forces.
As if emboldened by hussain’s death, she became leader of the secret Anwar Al-Awlaki battalion’s female wing, with responsibility for training european female terror recruits. Last year, she issued a series of specific terrorist threats, including calling on Muslim women to launch attacks in London, glasgow and Wales during Ramadan.
She was linked to several failed IS plots, including one to target the Queen and Prince Philip at VJ Day celebrations in 2015.
But there were successes. Jones published the names of more than 1,300 U. S. armed forces personnel, many of whom were serving at UK air bases, that her husband had hacked.
In one tweet to her British followers, she wrote: ‘You can’t just sit there with your tea and scones ordering drone strikes on UK brothers with no comeback from the Islamic State.’
In another, she said she wanted to kill a Western prisoner in Syria and longed to behead Christians with a ‘ blunt knife’. She then began to use Joe in the sickening promotional videos for IS.
LASTnight, it was not known if blue- eyed Joe had been killed in the U. S. drone strike. It was feared the brainwashed 12-year-old was used as a human shield by his mother and died at her side.
If that is true, it shows how far Sally Jones was prepared to take her grotesque IS fanaticism.
She was born the only daughter of greengrocer-turned-lorry driver Alan Jones and his wife Jacky. her older brother runs a business in the home Counties and, perhaps not surprisingly, has always refused to talk about his sister.
Their parents divorced after her birth and Jones was just ten when her father committed suicide. her mother went on to marry the director of a haulage company, raising both children in Southeast London before settling in a leafy village in Kent.
Those who knew the family back then say they were close and loving. Jones, however, left school at 16 and, while working on and off as a beautician, became interested in punk music, started
dressing in skimpy leather miniskirts and began turning to the bottle.
For a time she played bass guitar in an all- girl band called Krunch, who performed across the South-East in the 1990s. It gave her a taste of success, a chance to make something of her life.
But when she became pregnant with her then on-off boyfriend, labourer Jonathan Wilkinson, her music career came to a shuddering halt.
Instead, Jones took to living in a tent with Wilkinson even though their relationship was anything but strong. They often broke up and entered other relationships before patching things up.
But two years after Jones’s first son, Jonathan, was born in 1996, 29-year-old Wilkinson died from cirrhosis of the liver, leaving her to bring up the boy alone with the help of her mother.
Jones was eventually given a council house, but she often left Jonathan with her mother and stepfather Terry. Neighbours described how she would visit them driving a converted bus. ‘She was a total hippy at that time,’ said one. ‘She used to visit most weekends.’
According to the neighbour: ‘They took the boy on, probably from about the age often. They looked after him right through secondary school. He would go and stay with Sally occasionally.’
Jonathan, who refused to go with his mother to Syria, is now 21, thought to live in Kent and has a three-year-old child — which made Jones a grandmother.
‘Sally was very scatty,’ the neighbour added. ‘Everything was always a drama. Her language wasn’t very good. She was extremely loud. She was a lady with problems as far as I could tell.’
It was into this dysfunctional set-up that Joe was born 13 years ago, after Jones met Darren Dixon, now 40. It could all have been so different. In an interview recently, her stepfather Terry explained how Jones threw away her chances. ‘I brought her up since she was little,’ he said. ‘To me, she was my daughter. She was a beautiful and very intelligent woman. She would pick things up quickly that would take other people weeks to learn.
‘Unfortunately she lost it all, initially to drugs. It’s a terrible waste.’
Of his ‘grandson’ Joe and that picture of him in IS fatigues, Terry said simply: ‘I couldn’t believe it. I feel so sad, so sorry.’
Before news of the White Widow’s death, Joe’s father Darren — now believed to be living in Birmingham with a new girlfriend — lamented the son he lost to IS: ‘He was brilliant, just a normal boy — always chasing bugs, going down the park.’
There were rumours a few months ago that Jones had hoped to return to Britain but was stopped by Hussain’s IS comrades and by the impassioned pleas of onceinnocent Joe, by then so indoctrinated that he was a fully-fledged ‘cub of the caliphate’, caring for nothing but IS.
Whatever the truth, the beautician and punk rocker from obscurity who became one of the most wanted terrorists in the world never did try to return.
Instead, she was eventually wiped out by the West. Today, few people — apart from her fellow IS stalwarts — could possibly grieve for her.
Brainwashed: Newborn Joe with Darren and Sally and, inset, the Islamic State killer