Sister of New ‘Jihadi John’ Says He Was ‘Brainwashed’

Sister of New ‘Jihadi John’ Says He Was ‘Brainwashed’ © AFP 2016/ Leon Neal

19:13 19.01.2016Get short URL
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The sister of the Briton filmed by Daesh, also known as ISIL, in its latest propaganda video showing the killing of several “British spies” has told UK lawmakers that her previously “fun-loving, normal” brother had become “brainwashed.”

A Daesh propaganda video in January showed a man speaking with a London accent ahead of the shooting of several men accused of being informant of the western nations currently conducting airstrikes over Syria and Iraq. He has been identified as 32-year-old Siddhartha Dhar from London.

He was referred to as the ‘new Jihadi John’ after Mohammed Emwazi, another Londoner, who is believed to have beheaded a number of prisoners held hostage by Daesh and who fronted previous propaganda videos. Emwazi is thought to have been killed in a drone strike last year.

‘Jihadi John 2’ was identified as Hindu convert Siddhartha Dhar, a former inflatable castle salesman from London, who had become radicalized and fled to Syria in 2014.

Giving evidence to the UK Home Affairs Committee of lawmakers, his sister Konika Dhar said she had not seen him since September 2014, when he appeared to be “OK.” She told the committee: “He’s obviously been a convert for many years and it would be hard to say at what point he changed and what the reason was.

“The memories that I have of him is nothing that I am seeing today and that’s what’s quite tragic. He was fun-loving and very laid-back, easy-going, very friendly with everyone. I think it’s quite hard for me to know within myself what it was that triggered him to become the person that he is today. And I honestly wish I knew,” she said.

‘Left in the Dark’

Appearing close to losing her composure, she explained that her family were originally Hindu, but that her brother had converted to Islam without their full knowledge.

“We were left in the dark with his journey to becoming who he is today. To be honest, everything came to me as quite a shock.”

When she first saw the video and the media reports, she said:

“I think that, for me, it was the realization that he had been brainwashed. If you look at the circumstances around his conversion, he was told certain things at the time: for example, only Muslims can go to heaven and you can die at any time.”

Asked whether she had been in touch with her brother she said: “I’ve made numerous attempts to contact him and I’ve only managed to have two responses, so it’s been very difficult to maintain a relationship.

“I’m still holding to the firm belief that what I’m seeing is not him. If it is, then I can’t accept that he could ever do that. I still don’t believe that.

“I feel a sense of guilt. Why could I not stop it, because he’s a part of me? I feel there’s an obligation on my part as the younger sister to make sure that he’s ok and if he’s not ok then I must have failed him,” she said.

Asked what her advice was to other families in similar situations, she replied: “Not to give up hope. Always remind the person that you love them.”

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