Son of Bri­tish Isil mother ‘still fight­ing’

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Josie En­sor in Beirut

The son of Sally Jones, the Bri­tish Isil fighter killed in an air strike, is still alive and fight­ing with the ji­hadists, Syr­ian sources have said. Joe “Jojo” Dixon, 12, was not with Jones when she was killed by a CIA drone in June, ac­cord­ing to wit­nesses who said the boy was 35 miles away.

THE SON of Sally Jones, who be­came the UK’S most wanted woman af­ter join­ing Isil, did not die in the air strike that killed his mother and is likely to be still alive, Syr­ian sources have told The Daily Tele­graph.

Joe “Jojo” Dixon, 12, had not been 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 35 miles 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, the Is­lamic State of Iraq and the Le­vant (Isil) group 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 Isil’s “cubs of the caliphate” camps in north­ern Syria in early 2016. A pho­to­graph ob­tained by

The Tele­graph – the last known pic­ture of him – shows the boy wear­ing an Afghan-style 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 told

The Tele­graph by phone.

They were moved in an­tic­i­pa­tion of a Us-backed of­fen­sive to take 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,” he said. Jojo was last seen in al-shaafa three weeks ago, where he was liv­ing in a house with other chil­dren un­der the pro­tec­tion of se­nior com­man­ders.

Jones, a 50-year-old punk rock singer-turned-ji­hadist from Kent, be­came Bri­tain’s most wanted woman af­ter flee­ing to Syria in 2013 to marry Hus­sain, an Isil 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 Isil, and in 2016 called on fe­male sym­pa­this­ers back home to carry out ter­ror­ist at­tacks.

“She came into an in­ter­net café in Raqqa and I re­mem­ber the owner ask­ing her if she had a male guardian,” a Raqqa res­i­dent said, us­ing just his first name, Mohammed.

“She said ‘my husband is dead and Isil took my son from me to train as a soldier. I am alone.’ She seemed up­set at that,” he said. “She was ask­ing him to in­stall a se­cret in­ter­net line in her house, which was not al­lowed un­der Isil.”

He said she told the café owner in Fe­bru­ary that she was leav­ing Raqqa, the cap­i­tal of Isil’s so-called caliphate, for Deir Ez­zor on the or­ders of a “se­nior Isil leader”. 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 strike.

The gov­ern­ment is not be­lieved to have been con­sulted over the raid and there was no UK mil­i­tary in­volve­ment. How­ever, Sir Michael Fal­lon, the de­fence sec­re­tary at the time, said Jones was a le­git­i­mate tar­get. He warned that Bri­tons who had joined Isil and were plot­ting at­tacks on the UK had “made your­self a le­git­i­mate tar­get and you run the risk ev­ery hour of ev­ery day of bethe ing on the wrong end of an RAF or a United States mis­sile”.

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

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

“Isil has good ex­pe­ri­ence fight­ing in desert,” said Omar Abu Layla, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the news out­let Deirez­zor24. “They will likely not give up eas­ily now that they have lit­tle ter­ri­tory to hide in. It will be a big bat­tle.”

Isil now only con­trols 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 Thurs­day they launched a counter-at­tack in an at­tempt to cling to their last ur­ban bas­tion, man­ag­ing to re­take sev­eral neigh­bour­hoods.

‘For­eign fighters took Joe and some other Western chil­dren to pro­tect them as they are the fu­ture of the caliphate’

Joe ‘Jojo’ Dixon, the 12-year-old son of ji­hadi widow Sally Jones, above left; in an Isil pro­pa­ganda video, above; and pic­tured in the Syr­ian city of Raqqa in 2016, far left

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