I’ll fight until I die, says British jihadi
Amer Deghayes, 20, a former finance student, said he was determined to follow his brothers’ example and continue on the path of jihad “until I get killed”.
The three brothers left their family home in Saltdean, near Brighton, in January to try to help overthrow president Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria.
One brother, Abdullah, 18, died in Latakia province in April after reportedly taking up arms with Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda-affiliated group, while within the past week Amer relayed news of the death of his younger brother Jaffar, 17, to their father, Abubaker, back home in Britain.
Amer said his brothers’ deaths had not made him reconsider but had hardened his resolve to follow in their footsteps and die for the cause. He said: “It makes me more determined to get what they got. It is the real victory … martyrdom. It is the greatest success a person can attain as you are assured the highest level of paradise.”
He added: “I’m willing to die on the part of Allah, that’s my main aim. I have promised Allah that I will stay on the way of jihad until I get killed.”
The brothers’ father said this week that the UK government’s strategy to deal with Britons who travel to Syria was “criminalising” young people and must be changed. Mr Deghayes claimed many people who had gone to Syria were “youngsters who made a mistake and it should be dealt with like that”. He urged the government to re-think its tactics in dealing with those who travel there.
He said: “The strategy you are using with our sons does not work. You are criminalising them just out of the fear they might become a threat to this country. Do not push them to be radicalised, used by groups like Isis [Islamic State] who are out for revenge and thirst for blood.
“You should have a strategy where we teach youngsters here in this country to work in relief work and to know and to experience how to help in a civilised manner. And also have an exit strategy for those who went there. They can’t come back without the fear of their own people, their own government. They should be treated like youngsters who made a mistake and it should be dealt with like that, not just sent to prison. The stick of the law does not work all the time.”
In a message to the Prime Minister, he added: “Mr Cameron, please revise your strategy and the government’s strategy. It’s vital, it’s very important. We don’t want to lose more youngsters.”
Mr Deghayes went on to appeal to all young Muslims who were thinking of travelling to Syria not to go and not to put their families through “what we are going through”.
The Deghayes brothers are the nephews of Omar Deghayes, who was held by the US as an enemy combatant at Guantanamo Bay detention camp between 2002 and 2007 following his arrest in Pakistan.
Following the death of Abdullah in April, counter-terrorism officers in the UK raided the Deghayes’ family Dorset home the following month and seized material, after a warrant had been issued under the Terrorism Act 2000.