New Jihadi John suspect 'skipped bail over terror offences' and declared Isil support on the BBC
32-year-old former bouncy castle salesman from east London able to travel to Syria with his wife and four children under the noses of the security services, despite being on bail for alleged terrorism offences
The key suspect in the hunt for the new ‘Jihadi John’ was able to travel to Syria with his wife and four children under the noses of the security services, despite being on bail for alleged terrorism offences, it has emerged.
The family of British Muslim convert, Siddhartha Dhar, last night admitted that the killer seen shooting a prisoner in the head in the latest Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil) video, could be the 32-year-old former bouncy castle salesman from east London.
Both his mother and sister said they had watched the video, released by Isil on Sunday, and noticed similarities between the voice of the masked Jihadi and Dhar.
Dhar, who is also known as Abu Rumasayah, was arrested in September 2014 alongside the preacher Anjem Choudary on suspicion of belonging to the banned group Al-Muhajiroun.
Choudary will appear in court on suspicion of terror offences next week, but Dhar will not be in the dock alongside him after fleeing Britain.
Just hours after being granted police bail, Dhar caught a bus to Paris with his family and then travelled on to Syria where he joined Isil.
He then taunted the British authorities by boasting of his new life in the Caliphate and posted pictures on Twitter, showing him holding an AK-47 assault rifle in one arm and his baby son on the other.
Voice recognition experts working for the security services were last night understood to be urgently scrutinising the Isil video amid the suggestion that the Islamist’s voice matched that of Dhar.
Meanwhile in other developments
* A child who also featured in the video was positively identified as the son of Jihadi bride, Grace Dare, from Lewisham, south east London.
* Prime Minister, David Cameron, denounced the video as “despicable” but said people should watch it to remind themselves of Isil's "ghastly" tactics.
* Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, refused to answer questions about the Isil video.
Meanwhile, footage has emerged showing Dhar speaking positively about Isil and its role in the world on the BBC's Sunday Morning Live in 2014.
Speaking during the programme, which debated why British Muslims were joining the Islamic State, Dhar said: "For 90 years we have been without a caliphate and many of the rules within the Koran cannot be implemented.
"So now that we have this caliphate, I think you [will] see many Muslims globally seeing it as an opportunity for the Koran to be fully realised".
After appearing on the programme, Dhar fled Britain for Syria in September 2014 after he was arrested on suspicion of belonging to the banned group Al-Muhajiroun.
If Dhar’s identity in the terrorist outrage is confirmed it will lead to uncomfortable questions for the security services, who allowed him to leave the country just hours after the police granted him bail.
Speaking at the family home, his mother Sobita Dhar said she could not rule out that the man in the murderous video was her son.
She said: “I heard the voice, yes, but I don’t know, I’m not sure of the voice. These are the most difficult questions to answer. I just cannot say. I’m not sure within myself whether it is the truth or not.”
His sister, Konika Dhar, from north London said she did not want to believe that her brother could be responsible for the outrage, but conceded that the voice on the video “did sound like him”.
She said: “I can't believe it. This is just so shocking for me. I don't know what the authorities are doing to confirm the identity, but I need to know if it is.”
She said he had converted more than 10 years ago, and her memories of her brother are from when they were children and teenagers.
She said: "He was a very pleasant boy, and I know it may be hard to believe but he still is, and I still believe that he still can be that person."
Dhar, who was brought up a Hindu, ran a firm hiring out bouncy castles, before marrying his Muslim wife Aisha and becoming radicalised.
Former neighbours in Walthamstow, east London, claimed Dhar's wife was more devout than him and suggested she may have put him on the path to extremism.
In the months leading up to his arrest Dhar was accused of burning poppies and calling for the imposition of Sharia law in Britain.
He was a key member of al-Muhajiroun and offshoot groups such as the Shariah Project, masterminding 'roadshows' in London that aimed to recruit troubled youngsters to Islam.
n one interview around that time he said: “We believe that whenever the sharia is established, the pure Islamic state maybe in Iraq or Syria, one day the leader will wage jihad and annexe Britain into the Islamic state.
“We are not going to forget Europe, we are not going to forget Britain, the armies will be sent here to conquer these lands.”
One former neighbour in east London, who asked not to be named, said: “He refused to talk to me - he was quite rude. He converted to marry her - it was her family that were more hardcore.”
The Isil propaganda video was released on Sunday and showed the murder of five Syrian men, who were accused of spying for the British.
In the gruesome ten and a half minute clip, the men, who are wearing orange jump suits, each confess to passing on information about Isil and its operatives.
The video then show the men kneeling in front of five masked gunmen in a desert landscape, before the British Islamist delivers his rant.
Using rhetoric similar to that Dhar has used in the past, the gunman dismissed Mr Cameron as an “imbecile” and said the RAF airstrikes would have no impact against the Isil forces.
Despite much of his face being hidden, analysts will be able to glean a huge amount of information, including a possible positive identity from the gunman’s distinctive accent, language and tone.
Dr Frederika Holmes, a forensic speech and voice analyst said the sound on the video was of such good quality that experts would be able to compare very accurately against existing audio clips and ought to be able to positively identify the gunman.
Raffaello Pantucci, director of international security studies at Royal United Services, said the executioner could be from London and well-educated.
He said: “He sounds a bit like Abu Rumaysah from Al-Muhajiroun videos. From watching him in Al-Muhajiroun videos and this new video he sounds very similar.”