The Daily Telegraph

Fourth British Isil kingpin unmasked

Terrorist filmed in Raqqa with key figures including ‘Jihadi John’ has links to Manchester bomber

- By Josie Ensor in Northern Iraq

A BRITISH jihadist from Manchester has emerged as a key Isil operative after The Daily Telegraph obtained the first ever footage of the terror group’s fighters – including “Jihadi John” – together inside Syria.

Raymond Matimba was secretly filmed in conversati­on with leading British members of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), among them Mohammed Emwazi, the executione­r better known as Jihadi John.

Matimba was known to security services after he travelled to Syria in July 2014 – but until now his importance has not been clear.

The footage reveals he was a close associate of Emwazi, while an informant who infiltrate­d the group said Matimba was in charge of sniper training.

Matimba was also an associate of Salman Abedi, the Manchester Arena suicide bomber, and is understood to have been in conversati­on with him in the run-up to the attack in May this year.

The source, who smuggled the footage out of Syria, disclosed that Matimba, 28, had previously urged the terror cell based in the Isil stronghold of Raqqa to organise an attack on his home city of Manchester. The source said: “He said [to the group] that he hated his city, that he wanted it to be bombed.” The footage was captured on a mobile phone by the source who, at his own personal risk, infiltrate­d the tight-knit group of jihadists in Raqqa.

The other members of the cell on camera, Emwazi, Reyaad Khan and Junaid Hussain, were all killed in US or UK drone strikes. But Matimba, whose fate is not known, is now the most wanted British terrorist on the planet. The video, which runs for a minute and a half, was filmed in November 2014 by a Syrian man who had befriended the group. His identity is closely guarded to protect his family, who still live in an Isil-controlled area.

The footage shows Emwazi, wearing a woollen hat with long hair and beard, lounging on a sofa talking to Khan, from Cardiff, along with Matimba and Hussain. A few months earlier Emwazi had become the world’s most wanted man after executing two British aid workers, David Haines and Alan Henning, as well as three American citizens.

Until now, Matimba had always been considered a peripheral figure among the British jihadists who joined Isil.

The well-placed source, who had infiltrate­d the group, says that Matimba played a pivotal role. He said Matimba, who used the nom de guerre Abu Qaqa al-britani al-afro, kept in touch with Abedi after leaving for Syria.

It is now thought that Matimba had conversati­ons with Abedi in the months before he carried out the attack in their home city at the Ariana Grande concert, which killed 22 people and injured 250.

Matimba met Abedi, 22, through another Manchester jihadist, Raphael Hostey, one of Isil’s most prolific recruiters, who was also killed in a drone strike. The three men are said to have visited the same mosque in south Manchester. According to an Isil joining form that was obtained by The Daily Telegraph, Matimba listed Hostey as his Isil recruiter.

Born to Christian parents in Zimba- bwe, Matimba came to the UK in 2002 when he was in his teens but converted to Islam after marrying a Turkish woman. He is thought to have gone to the same further education college – Manchester College – as Abedi and at some stage was radicalise­d.

Matimba took a part-time job in an Islamic bookshop in Manchester but became increasing­ly dissatisfi­ed with his life in Britain, telling friends he wanted to leave the “kuffar (infidel) state”.

Once in Syria he began posting pictures and messages of his life in the

THE four young men laugh and joke as they charge their phones and make plans. They could almost be any four friends catching up, but together the quartet make up Britain’s most notorious Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) jihadists – torturers, beheaders and serial killers who left the UK to fight in Syria.

The Daily Telegraph has obtained extraordin­arily rare, secretly filmed footage of the fighters, seen here all together for the first time; unmasked and unguarded in an internet café in Raqqa, Syria.

The men are Mohammed Emwazi, the executione­r who beheaded two Britons and three Americans in grisly propaganda videos, Junaid Hussain, Isil’s number one hacker and husband of the UK’S most-wanted woman Sally Jones, Reyaad Khan, who recruited dozens of Britons to fight for Isil, and Christian convert and sniper Raymond Matimba.

They met regularly at this café in Raqqa, the capital of their so-called caliphate, off al-sharakisa street in the centre of the city, which is now understood to be the nerve centre from where they and other foreign fighters plotted attacks on the UK and the West.

The 1 minute 30-second video was filmed in November 2014 by a Syrian man who smuggled it out of Raqqa earlier this month after his neighbourh­ood was liberated by Us-backed forces. He asked that he not be identified to protect the safety of his family still living under Isil. He said he gained the trust of the jihadists after months of talking to them about Islam and Sharia law, a subject he is well-versed in.

He became one of the few locals allowed into the café , which was mostly used by British and other European fighters. Hussain can be heard talking in British-accented English to the man behind the camera, the Telegraph’s source, about getting a memory card. He wonders how he is going to pay for it as he says it is impossible to send money there via Western Union.

Our source said the jihadists predominat­ely used money transfer offices for small or local payments and Bitcoin for internatio­nal transactio­ns.

As one of Isil’s chief propagandi­sts, Hussain was responsibl­e for social media campaigns which lured hundreds of recruits from the UK to its “caliphate” spanning Iraq and Syria.

Emwazi and Khan can be seen sitting on a couch in the background, talking quietly out of earshot. It is the first time any of the fighters have been captured on camera in Isil territory outside of the group’s own videos.

From the café they discussed which European cities would be their next targets. Our source said they would talk about bomb-making and how to ensure maximum casualties.

On one occasion, in mid-2015, he overheard two French and one Belgian fighter plotting attacks on several Paris targets. Months later, those same men travelled back to their home countries on fake passports and went on to commit the Bataclan and Stade de France massacres which left 130 dead.

The man who took the video was trapped in Raqqa for nearly two years, unable to escape. He managed to film the video of the British fighters by hiding his camera phone under a coat, knowing he would face execution if he was caught.

While the senior fighters enjoyed full use of phones, civilians living in the caliphate were prohibited from accessing the internet or contacting those who lived outside it.

“I was worried for my life if they caught me filming,” he said via the encrypted messaging app Telegram. He said the British fighters always walked around the city wearing balaclavas, never taking them off for fear of being identified. The café was the one place they allowed themselves to be uncovered apart from their own homes.

“All of them wore black masks. Jihadi John was special and had a distinctiv­e green one,” the man said. Interestin­gly, our source said fellow fighters began to address him as John, appropriat­ing the name “Jihadi John” he was given by the media after it emerged he was part of a four-man cell of British fighters dubbed The Beatles who tortured prisoners in Isil jails.

“Emwazi was only violent in the media, but in normal life he was a calm person,” our source said. “He spoke quietly and little, but when he did he was respected. He never hurt people in public, he would avoid any contact with civilians on the street.

“Junaid was the IT guy, the controller, the leader. He was the most feared. When he entered the café the others would all stand up and look to him. He would tell everyone want to do,” he said.

He described Khan as the religious figure in the group as he had the best knowledge of Islamic law, or Sharia.

Hussain, 21, and Emwazi, 27, were killed in August and November 2015 respective­ly in US drone strikes in Raqqa. Khan became the first Briton to be killed in a targeted RAF drone strike in August the same year.

Matimba was not previously thought to be a significan­t member, but the video reveals Matimba’s close relationsh­ip with the extremist group’s most senior fighters.

Our source said the jihadist was responsibl­e for training Western recruits as snipers.

The Telegraph was unable to establish whether the 28-yearold from Manchester is alive or dead, raising the prospect he could still be at large.

 ??  ?? Sniper trainer: Raymond Matimba
Sniper trainer: Raymond Matimba
 ??  ?? Raymond Matimba
Raymond Matimba
 ??  ?? Mohammed Emwazi , left, and Reyaad Khan
Mohammed Emwazi , left, and Reyaad Khan
 ??  ?? Junaid Hussain, left and Mohammed Emwazi
Junaid Hussain, left and Mohammed Emwazi
 ??  ??

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