Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

British spies 'threatened Emwazi'

A recording believed to be of the extremist known as "Jihadi John" has emerged in which he talks of being threatened by British security services.

Mohammed Emwazi said spies told him they were "going to keep a close eye on you" and had already been monitoring him when he was questioned at Schipol airport in Amsterdam.

Emwazi has been unmasked as "Jihadi John", the Islamic State (IS) terrorist believed to be responsible for the beheading of hostages taken by the group.

In the recording, obtained by the BBC, of an interview with a case officer from advocacy group Cage, he said agents had tried to "put words in my mouth", adding: "'We are going to keep a close eye on you, Mohammed. We already have been and we are going to keep a close eye on you' - threatening me."

Emwazi claimed a British agent accused him of trying to reach Somalia for terrorism training when he had tried to head to Tanzania.

He said: "He (the officer) looked at me and he said 'I still believe that you're going to Somalia to train'.

"I said 'After what I just told you, after ... I told you that what's happening is extremism ... you're still suggesting that I'm an extremist?'"

It comes as one the reported founding members of al Qaida has spoken of becoming a spy for Britain.

Aimen Dean, born in Saudi Arabia, said Osama bin Laden "welcomed me into the fold" as he swore an oath "to fight the jihad against the enemies of God".

He said he had been a "bookish nerd" who found himself on the "mountains of Bosnia holding an AK47, feeling a sense of immense empowerment".

Dean said he wanted martyrdom but after the bombings of American embassies in East Africa in 1998 he turned against the organisation.

He claims he was picked up by MI6 and underwent months of debriefing before going back to Afghanistan to spy for Britain.

Dean is believed to have worked undercover for eight years until his cover was broken in 2006.

In an interview for BBC Radio 4's The Report, he said was speaking out to "help" those considering going to fight with Islamic State.

He said: "To counter the arguments , to help people, especially those who are tempted by the lure of what the Islamic State is offering, to understand that they are actually going into hell without knowing it."

Asim Qureshi, who made the recording, l ast week described Emwazi as an "extremely kind" and "extremely gentle" man who had been radicalised as a result of harassment by security agencies.

The Cage research director said he believed the approach taken by the agents was "a factor in the reason why he felt like he didn't belong in the UK any more".

He told Today: "All we are asking for is a little bit of accountability. What we want to see is that our security agencies don't operate in a way that actually drives people away from feeling like they have a role to play in this society.

"What Mohamed Emwazi's case shows is that for over a two-and-a-half-year period he's trying his best to use the system to effect change in his situation, which is why he comes to us."

Mr Qureshi said Cage was "horrified" by Islamic State's killings and insisted his comments were "not about sticking up for" Emwazi.

He said people in countries which were being "colonially dominated" had a "right to resist" but insisted Cage advised British Muslims that the best course of action was trying to influence change "from over here by using the system".

"However, I can't say that it is unethical for people to defend themselves in the countries that they are in when they are being invaded."

Boris Johnson said he had been "moved to anger" by suggestions that Emwazi was radicalised as a result of the way he was treated by the security services.

During an exchange with Mr Qureshi during his regular Ask Boris phone-in on LBC, London's mayor said: "I really, really think that the focus of your indignation and outrage should be on people who go out to join groups that throw gays off cliffs, that behead people who don't subscribe to their version of Islam, that glorify in the execution of innocent journalists and aid workers.

"These should be the object of your wrath, not the security services who are trying to keep us safe."

He added: "If you are a human rights group funded by charity, then you should be sticking up for the human rights of those who are being beheaded in Syria and northern Iraq. That should be the focus of your concern."

Mr Johnson also repeated his criticism of the Government's Tpims system of tracking suspected terrorists, which replaced the control orders introduced by Labour.

He said: "I think that the Home Secretary is doing absolutely the right thing in wanting to get back to the system where you can stop people moving around, and that was the essence of the control order."

The mayor said he wanted to see a return to control orders.

"My information from the Met, from the people who look after us, who come to brief me about it, is they think the Tpim system did have defects and they want to go back to a system of control orders which will allow them to remove people from their support networks and that seems to me to be totally, totally reasonable."

Mr Johnson was unable to say what the Tpims acronym stands for - terrorism prevention and investigation measures - admitting: "I cannot remember what a Tpim is, whatever it is, it's inadequate."


From Belfast Telegraph