A statement claims the family of 12, including three children, went to Syria willingly after rejecting ‘so-called freedom and democracy’.
“We release this statement to confirm that, indeed we are in the Islamic State.” Apparent confirmation, then, that three generations of one family from Luton have left their lives in the UK to go to Syria, writes Homes Affairs Correspondent Darshna Soni.
The eldest, Muhammed Abdul Mannan, is 75 years old. The youngest, his granddaughter, is one.
The story raises many difficult questions – about the continuing appeal of the extremist group for some British Muslims, the failure of government policy to prevent them leaving and the role of the security services.
There are thousands and thousands of Muslims from all corners of the world… willingly leaving the so-called freedom and democracy…
The statement is attributed to the family, but the language suggests they had help in preparing it – it is similar to other pieces of propaganda written by the group:
“There are thousands and thousands of Muslims from all corners of the world… willingly leaving the so-called freedom and democracy that was forced down our throat in the attempt to brainwash Muslims to forget about their powerful and glorious past and now present.”
The family were reported missing back in May, but the statement has only just been released. It’s telling that it only comes as their story was reported in the media. This is an obvious propaganda coup for the group and it makes pointed reference to media reports.
“Don’t be shocked when we say that none of us were forced against our will. In fact it is outrageous to think that an entire family could be kidnapped and made to migrate like this. It wasn’t by the command of a single person in the family but by the command of the Khalifah of the Muslims.”
It wasn’t by the command of a single person in the family but by the command of the Khalifah of the Muslims.
Earlier this week, I spoke exclusively to Mr Mannan’s son who first reported them missing to the police. He told me he felt his father would never have agreed to go.
He felt his sister, who had become radicalised, may have been responsible. This statement disputes that, although of course we haven’t heard from individual family members.
There have been a number of families recently leaving for the war zone. It has prompted a huge debate, with many people asking why we should care. As one neighbour of the family said to me: “If they want to go to Syria it’s up to them, let them go.”
But, as Mr Mannan’s son said to me, what of the children who are taken to the war zone, including babies? We’ve recently heard of around 16 children from different families who have been taken to Syria.
The government recently introduced new guidelines in schools to prevent children becoming radicalised. In these recent cases, it is their parents apparently deciding to take them.