A British pupil is newest member of al-Qaeda to avoid repaying student loans
A British teenager is thought to be the newest member of an al-Qaeda linked group of Islamist opposition fighters in Syria.
Police believe Mahdi Hassan, 19, may be the youngest person to join the group of British jihadists after travelling to the Middle East in October, according to the British newspaper.
The former private school pupil from Portsmouth could be one of many UK graduates being encouraged to ‘pack their bags’ and travel to the war-torn country to avoid repaying student loans.
The 19-year-old who is using the alias Abu Dujana is thought to have been recruited to the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham (Isis), an organization accused of torturing children and exploiting boy soldiers as young as 10.
The cousin of Ifthekar Jaman, a British man who was killed in Syria last week, has also joined the fight and spoken of his willingness to be ‘martyred’.
A third man thought to be working within the organization has been urging university graduates to abandon outstanding student loans and travel to Syria instead, using the disguise of aid workers to get in to the country.
At least six British people are thought to be operating from the northern city of Ar-Raqqah which was seized by Islamist rebels earlier this year.
According to the teenager’s Facebook profile he has also travelled to Chechnya and Yemen, with his last online post simply stating in Arabic: ‘Thanks be to Allah’.
The 19-year-old is a former pupil of St John’s College, a Catholic school in Portsmouth which charges £10,000 a year for day pupils and more than double for boarders.
Hassan has been linked to Jaman, 23, who was reportedly killed by a tanker last week after going to Syria in May.
A second British man using the pseudonym Abu Qa’qaa is thought to have been shot in the foot in the same crossfire.
Following the incident, Qa’qaa wrote on Twitter: ‘He was a lion in battle and is now with his Lord,’ while Jaman’s younger brother last week tweeted: ‘I know this is what you wanted; that’s why I’m 100 per cent happy for you.’
Another of the deceased’s family members has been in Syria for several months under the alias of Abu Abdullah.
In one online post the man said he was looking forward to being ‘under the throne of Allah’ and meeting his cousin again.
Abu Layth, a British man who claims to be of Afghan origin, is another member and an avid follower of Anwar al-Awlaki, the late al-Qaeda preacher who is credited with recruiting a generation of terrorists online.
The man, whose real identity is not known, has instructed people to join Isis by advising them to travel to refugee camps on the border with Turkey before entering Syria.
Isis, which has strong links to al-Qaeda, has become increasingly formidable in recent years with members claiming responsibility for a string of suicide bombings throughout Iraq.
The organisation has been accused of torturing and recruiting vulnerable children in Syria, with videos posted on YouTube seemingly showcasing boys as young as 10 being indoctrinated at its camps.