British ISIS fighter thought dead is found alive in secret Syrian prison

Aseel Muthana wants to return to Cardiff where he used to sell ice cream

British ISIS recruit Aseel Muthana has been found alive in a secret prison in northern Syria. AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo
British ISIS recruit Aseel Muthana has been found alive in a secret prison in northern Syria. AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo

One of the first British men to join ISIS has been found alive in prison in northern Syria and wants to return to his previous life in Cardiff, Wales.

Former ice cream seller Aseel Muthana travelled to Syria in 2015, aged 17, and was believed to have died.

He was following his brother Nasser and their friend Reeyad Khan, who fled from the UK to join the terrorist group in 2013. The other two men are also presumed to be dead.

But Aseel is alive in a secret prison along with about 5,000 other inmates and he reportedly misses his mother in Wales, ITV News reported on Monday.

Nasser and Khan featured in one of ISIS's first propaganda videos aimed at recruits in the West.

Inside the prison, Aseel told the British broadcaster he was lured to Syria by ISIS propaganda, which said that joining the group would mean he would be helping poor people in the country.

“Back then when I first came to ISIS, you have to understand I came way before the caliphate was pronounced," he said. "Before all of these beheading videos, before all of the burnings happened, before any of that stuff.

"We came when ISIS propaganda and ISIS media was all about helping the poor, helping the Syrian people.”

"We stuck with the people from the UK and from Wales ... me and my brother and Reeyad.”

Aseel, now 22, urged his mother to “try to stay strong” while he was in the secret prison.

After seeing the footage showing Aseel was alive, his mother Umm Amin initially said she didn’t believe it.

"I felt extreme joy that my boy is alive and I felt extreme sadness that my boy is in this place,” she said.

Umm Amin appealed to Kurdish officials who were keeping her son in jail.

“My little boy went seduced by ISIS and brainwashed with ideas that were not his, so he doesn’t know what is right and what is wrong, dominated and led by his emotions," she said.

"My boy was gentle and merciful, and didn’t know violence and harshness.”

But Aseel's older brother Nasser has a history of threatening the UK while he was in Syria.

On Twitter he has repeatedly shown hostility towards Britain and openly celebrated deaths of his compatriots.

In 2014, Nasser appeared in an ISIS video where told viewers that its fighters “will even go to fight in Jordan and Lebanon with no problems, wherever our sheikh [ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi] wants to send us".

Before he left for Syria six years ago, he was described as a “promising medical student”.

Updated: October 1, 2019 04:22 AM

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