A British Muslim extremist today warned would-be jihadists in a disturbing YouTube video that fighting in Syria is ‘not as easy as people might think’ – and complained of the ‘five-star jihad’ image.
The unidentified man, who spoke for four minutes holding a gun in front of a pick-up truck, said that ‘you don’t just come here, put on a tactical vest, grab a Kalashnikov and get a big beard’.
But experts on the situation said the man was trying to solve a problem of his own group’s making – because he is connected to a group of Londoners in Syria who coined the ‘five-star jihad’ phrase.
He spoke under the banner of Rayat al-Tawheed, a group claiming to be the distributor of English-language materials produced by jihadist organisation the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
UK officials are concerned that Britons who have fought with militants in Syria will return more radicalised, with both new paramilitary skills and with direct contacts to Al Qaeda or its affiliates.
The man said, in an English accent: ‘It is not easy to stand in front of a tank while it launches at you. It is not easy to raise this simple piece of metal and pull the trigger, although people might think it is.
‘It’s not as easy as pulling out your 9mm [gun] on a back road on the streets of London and blasting a guy with it, [knowing] that he’s not going to blast you back.
‘It’s not as easy as putting your feet up on the couch after a hard day’s work on the corner. This is practically the Muslim man’s job and career, to fight for the sake of our lives.’
He was responding to a message by a man who ‘offended’ him by claiming that ‘you don’t have to be in a certain stage of the Iman to come into the land of jihad and fight for the sake of Allah’
The man in the video added: ‘When you come to these lands, you act the Islam, you are the Islam people want to see and know.
‘So you don’t just come here and you put on a tactical vest, grab a Kalashnikov and (get) a big beard – (and) that’s it. Brothers, this is not just a thing you can put on Instagram or Facebook.
‘This is something you have to achieve. So brothers, I love you all for the sake of Allah, the ones sitting and the ones fighting – get your priorities straight and your intentions straight.
‘Don’t think you are going to come into a road that is planted with roses and pebbles and, as people have seen recently, villas and mansions and things like that.’
Security sources have already warned of an increasingly large role played in the Syrian conflict by foreign fighters, including Europeans.