LONDON: Speaking for the first time, the mother of a 19-year-old British boy, who reportedly joined the Islamic State, has said she is “completely shocked” at the loss of her “intelligent” son to the dreaded terrorist group.
Muhammad Raja’s mother told ‘The Sunday Times’ about her son on condition of anonymity after the newspaper showed her a leaked ISIS recruitment file in which Raja was named.
“I’m completely shocked. He’s such an intelligent boy. He got grade As at GCSE (Board exams) and was loved by his teachers. We need to find out how this happened,” she said.
She last saw her son at Heathrow airport as he left on holiday to Turkey. But days after arriving in Istanbul, the boy, mysteriously vanished.
For almost the past two years his mother has been searching for news of his whereabouts and hoping he might still call her.
His ISIS recruitment file states that after flying to Istanbul, Raja took a 21-hour bus journey to Sanliurfa, near Turkey’s border with Syria.
The leaked document, passed to the newspaper by Zaman al-Wasl, an independent Syrian news organisation opposed to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and to ISIS, states that Raja crossed into Syria on July 10, 2015.
Under a section that asks for his ISIS “sponsor”, Raja says that someone called “Abu Hamza from Twitter” helped to put him in touch with the terrorist organisation.
The file also states that Raja left his British passport with an ISIS operative called Abu al-Walid in Turkey — in effect leaving him trapped in Syria.
Someone with the same alias has been identified by experts as one of ISIS’ most prolific propagandists on social media.
He has resurfaced on Twitter at least 464 times after having his account suspended, the newspaper found.
Raja, now 21, is an expert in computing and web design and his recruitment file emphasises this point.
When most foreigners are simply asked if they want to be a fighter or a suicide bomber, Raja’s entry lists his knowledge of graphics-related programmes, including Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.
British police have searched Raja’s possessions a couple of times and have advised his mother to alert them should her son make contact.