- New 'Jihadi John' was bouncy castle salesman
- Tracing the dark history of Islamic State
- Beginning of the end for IS in Iraq?
He would be cute – curly hair, bandanna, British accent – if, at age 6 or 7, he wasn't wearing army fatigues and calling for slaughter in Allah's name.
But that is what a young boy is doing in a recently surfaced Islamic State video that features a militant some are calling the "new Jihadi John" executing five men. "We are going to go kill the kafir (non-believers) over there," the boy says at the conclusion of the video, not yet independently verified.
Now, a man in London – the father of a woman known to have left England to fight for the Islamic State – has said the boy is his grandson.
"He's my grandson," Sunday Dare told UK's Channel 4. "I can't disown him. He's my grandson. I know him very well."
The boy's identification was not confirmed by authorities. But, as always, the British press offered a memorable nickname: "Jihadi Junior."
As the Guardian reported, Dare said the Islamic State is "just using a small boy".
"He doesn't know anything," Dare said. "He's a small boy. They are just using him as a shield." Of his grandson's opinion of the Islamic State, Dare, who has spoken to him on the phone, said: "Well, he doesn't like it over there."
British Prime Minister David Cameron was quick to condemn the video. "Well, it's desperate stuff from an organisation that really does do the most utterly despicable and ghastly acts," he told the BBC on Monday. "This is an organisation that is losing territory. It's losing ground."
Dare is all-too-familiar with the toll the Islamic State takes on some families living in the United Kingdom. A Christian migrant from Nigeria, he saw his daughter, Grace "Khadijah" Dare, 24, radicalised while at university in London. Her son was born in 2010; she joined the Islamic State in 2012, and was soon praising the beheading of American journalist James Foley, saying she wanted to be the first woman to behead a hostage, and posting photos of her young child holding an AK-47.
In a BBC documentary, Khadijah's mother mourned her daughter's conversion.
"She loved church," Victoria Dare said last year. "She had a Bible, she read the Bible. She would sit there and pray and pray and pray."
Talking to Britain's Channel 4, Sunday Dare had harsh words for his daughter.
"She's going to come back and face the music because she has let herself down," he said.
The boy known as Jihadi Junior is far from the only young person in the service – as much as a child can be in the service – of the Islamic State. Last year, Australian jihadist Khaled Sharrouf tweeted a photo of a seven-year-old boy thought to be his son holding a severed head in Syria.
"That's my boy!" the photo's caption said.
For children in a war zone, the Islamic State has an allure. The men in black are, at least, somewhat organised.
"When [the Islamic State] came to my town … I liked what they are wearing, they were like one herd," a child told the advocacy group Human Rights Watch in 2014. "They had a lot of weapons. So I spoke to them, and decided to go to their training camp."
Human Rights Watch, which reported on interviews with 25 children fighting in Syria, said that children growing up among militant groups grow up fast.
"One doctor described treating a boy between 10 and 12 years old whose job it was to whip prisoners held in an ISIS detention facility, according to the adult fighter who brought him," it wrote, using another acronym for the Islamic State.
Meanwhile, the "new" Jihadi John – identified by the BBC, who talked to an unnamed "official source", as British man Siddhartha Dhar – has posted at least one photo of himself holding a gun in one hand and and his newborn son in the other. Born in Britain, Dhar, also known as Abu Rumaysah, was known for his radical views before he was arrested for allegedly encouraging terrorism. He fled to Syria in 2014 while on bail.
"As a Muslim I would like to see the UK governed by the Sharia," he told the BBC in 2014. "It is far superior to democracy. I don't really identify myself with British values. I am Muslim first, second and last."
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