Briton in IS video identified as former bouncy castle salesman
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Briton in IS video identified as former bouncy castle salesman

Ex-Londoner, Muslim convert Siddharta Dhar belived to be masked English-speaker in new jihadist execution video

A picture taken on September 11, 2011 shows a man identified by local media as Siddharta Dhar (C) taking part in a demonstration outside the US Embassy in London on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. (AFP Photo/Justin Tallis)
A picture taken on September 11, 2011 shows a man identified by local media as Siddharta Dhar (C) taking part in a demonstration outside the US Embassy in London on the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States. (AFP Photo/Justin Tallis)

LONDON (AFP) — Investigations into the identity of an English-speaking man who featured in an Islamic State (IS) group video are focusing on a Briton, Siddhartha Dhar, the BBC reported Tuesday.

Dhar was born a Hindu and ran a business renting out bouncy castles in northeast London before converting to Islam and becoming radicalized, the broadcaster said.

It cited an unnamed official source as saying that Dhar was the main suspect, although Britain’s intelligence services never comment on the record about their investigations.

A spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron told AFP on Tuesday that “work is underway to examine the content and the individuals in that video,” but that it was unlikely the authorities would publicly confirm the man’s identity at any stage.

On Sunday, IS released a video featuring a masked fighter, carrying a gun and speaking with a British accent, which showed the killing of five “spies” it said had worked with the international coalition fighting IS jihadists in Iraq and Syria.

Still image from a new Islamic State video headlined 'A Message to David Cameron.' The clip shows what looks like the execution of five hostages claimed to be British spies. (screen capture)
Still image from a new Islamic State video headlined ‘A Message to David Cameron.’ The clip shows what looks like the execution of five hostages claimed to be British spies. (screen capture)

It also features a young boy wearing camouflage clothing and black headband, saying, “We are going to go kill the kuffar (non-believers) over there.”

The boy was identified by his grandfather as the son of a British woman who traveled to Syria in 2012.

The grandfather accused IS of using the boy, who is reported to be four-years old, as a “shield.”

Prime Minister David Cameron has described the video as “desperate stuff” designed to deflect from recent losses by IS.

In November, the US military said it was “reasonably certain” that a drone strike in Syria had killed Mohammed Emwazi, an IS fighter from London known as “Jihadi John” who had featured in a string of execution videos.

‘Human shield’

Other British media quoted the mother and sister of Dhar, 32, reportedly a member of banned group al-Muhajiroun, as saying they were not certain whether the man in the video was him.

“From hearing the audio, it did sound how I remembered hearing my brother… but in terms of physique… I’m not convinced it is him,” said his sister Konika Dhar.

Steven Sotloff next to his Islamic State captor, 'Jihadi John,' in a video released September 2, 2014. (screen capture: SITE/Twitter)
Steven Sotloff next to his Islamic State captor, ‘Jihadi John,’ in a video released September 2, 2014. (screen capture: SITE/Twitter)

“If he has (appeared in this video), I’m going to go there and kill him myself,” she added.

“I cried and I was like, ‘oh my God what is he doing?’ I’m just going to strangle him when I see him, but this is assuming it is him.

“All I can say is I still really miss him, he’s still my brother.”

According to British media reports, Dhar traveled to Syria after catching a bus to Paris with his family, despite being on bail for alleged terrorism offenses.

His mother Sobita told The Daily Telegraph newspaper: “I don’t know, I’m not sure of the voice. These are the most difficult questions to answer. I just cannot say.”

British fighter jets joined the US-led coalition bombing IS targets in Syria after parliament backed the move in December.

Britain was already involved in attacking IS targets in Iraq.

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