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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