Jones was ‘first female terrorist targeted by drone’
Sally Jones was a “poster woman” for Islamic State whose death, if confirmed, would represent a significant propaganda blow to the terrorist group.
Jones, who helped recruit hundreds of women to join the organisation, was reportedly killed in June along with her 12-year-old-son JoJo.
Shiraz Maher, senior research fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King’s College London, said: “If these reports are true, it means Sally Jones was targeted by a drone strike. She is the first woman I know of who’s been specifically targeted in this way,”
He said she was one of only two women the US State Department designated as a foreign terrorist fighter.
Jones, a former singer and guitarist in all-female 1990s punk band Krunch, was born in Greenwich, London, but moved to Chatham, Kent. She is believed to have been radicalised by her British husband, Junaid Hussain. After converting to Islam she joined him in Syrian in 2013.
When Hussain was killed in a US drone strike in 2015, the British press began to refer to her as the “white widow”. She is not the only jihadist to be given this nickname, which has also been used for Samantha Lewthwaite – the widow of 7/7 London attacker Germaine Lindsay.
Jones’s roots in suburban England led her to being portrayed as an unlikely jihadist. But her background fits a profile of foreign fighters in a World Bank study which challenged the assumption they come from deprived backgrounds. It found the majority of Isis recruits are, like Jones, well educated and relatively wealthy.
Jones is believed to have recruited hundreds of extremists from the UK. She was placed on a UN sanctions list that included a travel ban and freeze on assets. Last year she issued specific terrorist threats, including calling upon Muslim women to attack London, Glasgow, and Wales during Ramadan.
Citing Isis documents, the international Counter Extremism Project said she was responsible for training all European female recruits in tactics including suicide missions.
Jones used social media accounts to recruit women to Isis and provided advice on how to travel to Syria. Typical comments include: “You Christians all need beheading with a nice blunt knife and stuck on the railings at Raqqa ... Come here I’ll do it for you.”
Azadeh Moaveni, author of Lipstick Jihad, said Jones was one of ISIS’s “most iconic recruiters”. Speaking to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show, she said: “Having her on side was really important in projecting the idea Isis could get into the furthest reaches of British society.”