State Department designates Islamic State executioner, fighter as terrorists

The US says Siddhartha Dhar “is believed to be the masked leader who appeared in a January 2016 ISIS” execution video.

Two Islamic State members, Siddhartha Dhar and Abdelatif Gaini, were added to the US government’s list of specially designated global terrorists today. The State Department announced their terror designations, saying the move is intended “to deny Dhar and Gaini the resources they need to plan and carry out further terrorist attacks.”

Siddhartha Dhar “was a leading member of now-defunct terrorist organization Al-Muhajiroun,” State notes. Al-Muhajiroun was led by Anjem Choudary, a notorious British extremist, for years. Eventually, British authorities shut the organization down and jailed Choudary, who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in 2014. Choudary was previously designated as a terrorist by the State Department.

Some of Choudary’s disciples, including Siddhartha Dhar (also known as Abu Rumaysah, among other aliases), were featured in a Channel 4 documentary titled, “The Jihadis Next Door,” which aired in 2016.

The opening minutes of the documentary include footage of Dhar walking the streets of northeast London. The narrator described Dhar as “one of Britain’s most vocal hate preachers,” despite having four children and operating a business that sold bouncy castles for parties. He led the production crew to a storage unit where he had a “black flag of Islam” and an Islamic State flag, promising that those banners would fly high once sharia ruled over Britain.

Another Al-Muhajiroun associate featured in the Channel 4 documentary was Khuram Shazad Butt, who participated in the June 3, 2017 attacks on the London Bridge and Borough Market. The Islamic State claimed that its “fighters” were responsible for the assaults. [For more on Butt’s role, see FDD’s Long War Journal report: British officials publicly identify 2 of the London terrorists.]

Unlike some of his Al-Muhajiroun comrades, Dhar didn’t stay in the UK. He absconded for the lands of the so-called caliphate after being scrutinized by British authorities. According to a profile published by BBC News, Dhar “disappeared in September 2014, shortly after being released on bail while under investigation for allegedly encouraging terrorism.”

Dhar’s story spread throughout the press like wildfire after he was identified as the chief executioner in an Islamic State video that was posted online in Jan. 2016. The video, which was released by the Islamic State’s Raqqa “province,” was the third episode in a series titled, “They are the enemy, so beware of them.” Five alleged British spies were executed in the footage.

The masked murderer in the middle of the Islamic State’s men (seen above) is presumably Dhar.

The State Department referenced this identification in its announcement today, saying “Dhar is believed to be the masked leader who appeared in a January 2016 ISIS video of the execution of several prisoners ISIS accused of spying for the UK.”

Before the victims were killed, Dhar delivered a speech addressed to then British Prime Minister David Cameron.

“This is a message to David Cameron. O slave of the White House, O mule of the Jews, how strange it is that we find ourselves today hearing an insignificant leader like you challenge the might of the Islamic State,” the jihadi identified as Dhar said. “How strange it is that a leader of a small island threatens us with a hand full of planes. One would have thought you’d have learned the lessons of your pathetic master in Washington and his failed campaign against the Islamic State.”

“But it seems that you, just like your predecessors Blair and Brown are just as arrogant and foolish,” Dhar continued. “In fact, David, you are more of an imbecile. Only an imbecile would dare to wage war against a land where the law of God reigns supreme, and where the people live under the justice and security of the sharia. Only an imbecile would dare to anger a people who love death the way that you love your life.” (The last line is similar to a common jihadi motto.)

Dhar continued to rail against his former countrymen: “O British government, O people of Britain! Know that today your citizenship is under our feet. And that the Islamic State, our country, is here to stay. And we will continue to wage jihad, break borders, and one day invade your land, where we will rule by the sharia.” He then asked if the British government would abandon its soldiers in Syria if they were captured just like the alleged spies.

Dhar is “considered to have replaced ISIS executioner Mohammad Emwazi, also known as ‘Jihadi John’,” according to the State Department. Emwazi, who was killed in a 2015 drone strike, also relocated from Britain to Syria and earned infamy after recording multiple snuff videos.

The other Islamic State member designated as a terrorist today is Abdelatif Gaini, whom State describes as “a Belgian-Moroccan citizen believed to be fighting for ISIS in the Middle East.” Foggy Bottom notes that Gaini “is connected to UK-based ISIS sympathizers Mohamad Ali Ahmed and Humza Ali, who were convicted in the UK in 2016 of terrorism offenses.”

Indeed, the West Midlands Police Department provided the press, including BBC News, with photos of Gaini participating in paintball training alongside Ahmed and Ali, as well as other suspected extremists. The training took place in the British town of Solihull. Ahmed and another man who was convicted on terrorism charges reportedly gave money to one of the jihadists responsible for the Mar. 2016 attack in Brussels.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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