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Aberdeen imam urges Isis jihadist to return home

An undated photo of Abdul Raqib Amin, third right, on a night out with friends several years ago. Picture: Hemedia/SWNS

An undated photo of Abdul Raqib Amin, third right, on a night out with friends several years ago. Picture: Hemedia/SWNS

  • by STEPHEN MCGINTY
 

LEADERS at an Aberdeen mosque last night appealed for a man who appeared in a jihadist recruitment video for the violent Islamic militant group Isis to come home.

Abdul Rakib Amin, a former pupil at St Machar Academy, worshipped alongside his fellow Muslims at the Aberdeen Mosque and Islamic Centre, but was not radicalised there, according to the imam, Ibrahim Alwawi, who yesterday urged the young man to return to his family in Britain.

He said: “We say come back to your families because we have to think of the parents.”

Amin, believed to be 25, is understood to have also attended Sunnybank Primary School in the city, and was involved in fundraising for medical supplies for Gaza before leaving Aberdeen two years ago.

He appeared in the 13-minute video, There Is No Life Without Jihad, which was posted online on Friday by accounts linked to Isis, the fundamentalist Islamist group currently capturing cities and territory across Iraq.

Two of the six fighters shown in the video – which urges Muslims to join a holy war – have been identified as British nationals, named as Nassar Muthana and Reyaad Khan from Cardiff.

Yesterday, members of the Muslim community in Aberdeen said they were shocked by the revelations.

Mr Alwawi told a news conference: “The person who was named in the media has attended the mosque when he was in Aberdeen. The mosque is like any worship house, it is a public worship place and the door is open and we welcome everyone. Every individual is responsible for his own deeds.

“I would like to say also that we are in contact and co-operating with the police of Scotland like usual.

“There was no indication [of this radicalisation]. The mosque is a place of peace and the people who come here receive a peaceful message.

“I would say to him, come back to your family because he is not the only one. Officials say there may be 400 to 500 or more, and we say to them come back to your families, because we have to think of the parents.”

Mr Alwawi added: “We welcome everyone to have a peaceful life and peaceful practice.

“There were cases before him but those ones, with co-­operation with the police and local authorities, we have worked to help them to integrate into the community.

“We don’t welcome someone with his views and ideology. We disagree with what he is doing. None of his family members worship here. We haven’t seen them for a long time.”

Amin is largely remembered by locals as a young man who enjoyed life.

Yesterday, a picture emerged which showed him smiling and posing with friends. Clean-shaven, with a modern haircut and wearing a black crew-neck jumper and jeans, it was a ­portrait of Amin before he was radicalised.

The picture was taken on a night out in Aberdeen a few years ago when he was in his early twenties. He appears to be making a “gangsta” hand gesture popularised by hip-hop artists.

Naz Hussain, 28, a former school friend from St Machar Academy, said: “He was really popular, everyone knew him. All his old classmates, they just can’t believe it. He just seemed like a normal lad, up for a game of football.

“I haven’t seen him for a few years, he went away for a bit, I’m not sure where to, and when he came back, he was more sort of radical.

“He just seemed more religious. I always used to see him when I was walking up George Street in the city centre and he was just changed from how he used to be, more reserved and quiet, less chatty and friendly.

“I knew him quite well when we were younger. He was a bit cheeky now and then but I never thought this would happen to him. How could this happen to someone who grew up in ­Aberdeen?”

Daud Abdul Harrell, spokesman for the Aberdeen Mosque and Islamic Centre, read out a statement yesterday.

It said: “The Aberdeen Mosque and Islamic Centre has been a peaceful worshipping place for the local Muslim community for many, many years and our doctrine has been tolerance, love, patience and harmony. We continue to strive in that fashion.”

Amin’s former neighbours, Michael Hind, 65, and wife Barbara, 61, who live in Froghall Avenue, Aberdeen, both confirmed it was Amin in the picture.

Last night, Mrs Hind said: “He was a hell of a nice bloke – just a decent, nice, normal guy, really. He was a great neighbour. We’d sometimes have small chats in the landing, just, ‘How are you?’, sort of stuff.

“I’m Jewish and we had a conversation once where I mentioned that. It didn’t seem to faze him at all, really. He didn’t even change his expression. I’m shocked he’s gone to do this now.”

Last night, the Scottish Government said it had “robust” measures to safeguard Scottish Muslims from radicalisation.

Scottish external affairs minister Humza Yousaf said Holyrood ministers are liaising closely with the UK government to monitor the risks of UK nationals fighting in Iraq or Syria.

Mr Yousaf said: “Violent extremism and radicalisation is something that we have been and continue to be constantly vigilant about. Scotland has robust measures in place to help safeguard people who may be vulnerable to radicalisation or at risk from extremism.”

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said: “Whilst this news would have come as a shock to people in Scotland, it shows no community can be complacent about the threat of radicalisation. We must all work together to tackle the issues.”

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