Jones was ‘first fe­male ter­ror­ist tar­geted by drone’

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Matthew Weaver

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.”

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