MI5 offered ‘new Jihadi John’ double agent job before he joined ISIS in Syria – reports
Officers from MI5 approached Rumaysah, a Muslim-convert born Siddhartha Dhar to a Hindu family in London, on two separate occasions, the Sunday Times reports.
A security source told the paper MI5 officers offered Rumaysah a role as an agent, and told him he would likely be killed if he went to Syria.
“Dhar was told that his life in the UK as a would-be jihadist was over. If he went to Syria, MI5 warned, he would in all likelihood be killed in battle or a drone strike. His only option was to become an agent,” the source said.
Officers first stopped 32-year-old Rumaysah in the streets in a so-called “bump” operation, it was claimed.
“It is a tried and tested tactic to try to recruit those who may pose a threat to the security of the state... Dhar was bumped and told he was on MI5’s radar,” the source explained.
“MI5 had a lot of intelligence on Dhar. He was regarded as a militant Islamist, and although he was a potential threat, he was also a potential asset to MI5.”
According to the source, MI5 then tried to reach out to Rumaysah by phone, before the Muslim convert was arrested in September 2014 alongside radical preacher Anjem Choudary on suspicion of links to Al-Muhajiroun, an extremist group banned in the UK under 2010 anti-terrorism laws.
Days after his arrest, while out on bail, Rumaysah boarded a bus to Paris.
Six weeks after he had left the country, police wrote Rumaysah a letter asking why he had not yet surrendered his passport.
The revelations come amid speculation that Rumaysah is the masked jihadi who presided over the execution of five Syrian men accused of being spies in an IS video released last week.
Government and security forces have meanwhile come under fire for potential lapses that allowed Rumaysah to leave the UK while out on bail.
Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Andy Burnham said in the House of Commons last week: “Something clearly has gone seriously wrong.”
“Whether or not he’s the person in the video doesn’t matter. The system has failed because it allowed him to abscond to Syria,” he said.
“He was well-known to the authorities having been arrested six times on terrorism related offences.”