A British teenager and nephew of a former Guantanamo Bay inmate has been killed in Syria. His father, who found out about his son’s death via Facebook, revealed Friday that two of his other sons have also gone to fight in the conflict.
Eighteen-year-old Abdullah Deghayes left Britain in January and died earlier this month. His father, Abubaker Degayes, told reporters outside his home in Brighton, England that his other son, Amer, was wounded by a bullet to the stomach in the same battle.
“He was killed in a battle, as far as I know. His brother, who is also there, is injured. The third brother who is also there is OK. He is fine,” said Abubaker.
Abubaker said he never encouraged his children to go to Syria, but thinks of Abdullah as a martyr.
“I never encouraged them, nor anybody, as far as I know, who is around them encouraged them, They went of their own free will. Of course I think, as a Muslim, that my son is a martyr. Anyone who dies for a just cause is a martyr,” he said.
He said his son became adamant about going to Syria after seeing videos of Assad’s atrocities online and had gone there to help “those who are weak.” He stressed that neither Abdullah nor his brothers are “terrorists.”
Abubaker said he had travelled to Turkey earlier this year to meet two of his sons, Abdullah and 16-year-old Jafar, in an unsuccessful attempt to stop them from going to fight in Syria.
Abdullah’s Uncle, Omar Deghayes, was held by the US at Guantanamo Bay from 2002-2007, after being arrested in Pakistan. Speaking from Tripoli, Libya, Omar said that Abdullah was a young man full of life.
“He had a bright future ahead, he was just like any 18-year-old, but his heart was different. He couldn’t sit still watching the news of the gross injustice taking place in Syria. He felt he needed to do more,” Omar said, as quoted by British media.
Pictures of Abdullah on Facebook show a British teenager spending time with male and female friends, some of whom are drinking beer. He worked in a sports shop and was due to begin his studies at the University of Brighton.
“We were in a really tight group of friends together and we all went for a carvery a while back as we knew he was going away. We thought it was Libya where he often went to see friends. He never mentioned Syria before – never,” said Louise Tierney, one of Abdullah’s close friends, as quoted by British media.
Around 400 British nationals are believed to have traveled to Syria in the past two years, approximately 20 of whom have died. Authorities believe 250 of those have now returned to the UK.
Authorities in Austria believe that two teenage girls who vanished from their homes in Vienna on April 10 may have been tricked into going to Syria to fight for the Islamic rebels.
The first hints of where Samra Kesinovic, 16, and Sabina Selimovic, 15, went were a number of social media posts claiming the girls had gone to fight a “holy war.”
The girl’s parents told the Dnevni Avaz (Daily Voice), a newspaper in Bosnia and Herzegovina, that the pair had left behind letters in which they said they were going to Syria to fight for Islam.
Sabina Selimovic’s father said she had left a letter hidden in her books which read, “We’re going to fight for Islam. See you in Jannah, there is good, there is the eternal world.”
New photos on their Facebook pages show them holding Kalashnikov automatic rifles, and in some cases they are surrounded by armed men. In their latest post, they said they were going to get married so they could become “holy warriors,” according to the Daily Mail.
Austrian officials believe the girls are in a training camp and are already married and living in the homes of their new husbands.
It is believed the girls arrived in Adana, Turkey on Thursday, which is about 100 km from the Syrian border, according to the Dnevni Avaz. The parents of the girls say they don’t believe the Facebook messages are being written by their daughters, but admitted they had recently started going to a local mosque run by a radical Imam, Ebu Tejma.
The girls come from Bosnia refugee families who settled in Austria after the war in the 1990s, but both were born in Austria.