Monday, January 11, 2016

'Little London' - the new ISIS stronghold in Syria home to 100 BRITISH jihadists

ISLAMIC STATE recruiters have been so successful in luring UK-born jihadis to Syria that one town has earned the nickname 'Little London' because of its huge British population.

Manbij in northern Syria is just a half hour drive from the Turkish border and has become a popular staging post for European jihadis before they venture deeper into ISIS-territory.

Activists living in Manbij say it has become the centre for foreign fighters, with radicalised Britons making up the largest number of depraved expats.

Up to 100 Britons are thought to have lived in the town at some point in the last 12 months - one in seven of the total UK contingent of 700 who have been lured by the jihadi death cult - also known as Daesh - in recent years.

Among its most high-profile new residents is four-year-old Isa Dare, from Lewisham, southeast London, who is believed to be living in the town.

The youngster featured in a jihadi propaganda video released last week in which he and the new 'Jihadi John' - Siddhartha Dhar - issued threats to the West.

Manbij is mid-way between the besieged city of Aleppo and the de facto capital of ISIS in Syria - Raqqa.

The town, which had a pre-war population of 100,000, has been considered much safer than neighbouring Raqqa, which has been pounded by Russian and US-led coalition airstrikes.

But the anti-ISIS coalition is slowly closing in on the nascent ISIS stronghold, with a series of airstrikes launched yesterday.

The Combined Joint Task Force said in a statement warplanes had bombed targets near Manbij as well as in Raqqa and the surrounding area.

Husain Husain, an activist living in Manbij, said the area was now a major draw for fresh recruits to the extremist cause.

Speaking to the Telegraph, he said: "There are about 30 nationalities of ISIS fighters here: Britons are the highest, then the Germans and the French, then the Saudis and the Algerians.

"It has the most Europeans of any town in Syria."

A former resident who used the pseudonym Ali Al-Khatib also told the paper: "Manbij used to be one of the most liberal places in Syria, but people have no freedom now, they are all slaves of Daesh."

Last week, reports emerged from Manbij of a female ISIS fighter torturing a Syrian woman to death.

The 21-year-old victim, who was reportedly arrested for violating strict rules about wearing Islamic dress, died in an ISIS detention centre in the Syrian border city.

A family member of the tortured women told local media in Syria: "She was harshly tortured. We have received her dead body full of physical effects of torture.

"We cannot even protest against this horrible crime. The only judicial department in Manbij is the Sharia Court, which supports such crimes."