Mosque sends out warning as rebel is killed in Syria

Ifthekar Jaman pictured in a video interview with the BBC's Newsnight programme
Ifthekar Jaman pictured in a video interview with the BBC's Newsnight programme

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A PORTSMOUTH mosque’s committee has warned young people with ‘any thoughts’ of travelling to Syria to fight in the civil war against doing so after a Southsea man was killed there.

Ifthekar Jaman, 23, is believed to have travelled to the war-torn country along with others from the city earlier this year.

Friends say he has been killed fighting in the uprising against the Syrian government, although the circumstances of his death are unclear.

Syed Aminul Hague, Jami Mosque’s advisory council chairman, said the committee had not been aware the men had travelled to Syria to join a rebel group called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant group (ISIS) until Mr Jaman appeared on the BBC’s Newsnight programme last month.

‘Everyone in the community that I have spoken to, they are concerned that this has got out of hand,’ he said.

‘We did not know anything about it.’

‘We had some idea that something was going on in the Muslim community overall, but not in Portsmouth.

‘We were concerned and we were the ones who contacted the police, to find out more about it all.

‘They were reluctant to tell us anything. As things progressed, they admitted that they did know there were people out there in Syria.’

Abu-Suyeb Tanzam, a member of the mosque’s committee, explained Ifthekar and his family have prayed at the mosque, but have also been to others in the city.

He added there are around 1,500 people who use the Jami mosque.

He said: ‘It was surprising that someone from the community in Portsmouth went out there. I don’t know how many people have gone. It is very sad but we don’t want to see any other people risking their lives.

‘We are giving a warning to anyone has got any thoughts about doing this. He did not achieve anything; he died.’

His parents, Enu Miah and Hena Choudhury, originally from Bangladesh, are said to be too emotional to speak.

His younger brother said: ‘We are doing our best to console one another but the feelings are still raw and we need time to grieve.

‘Everyone is still very much in a state of shock and it’s difficult to come to terms with what’s happened.’

Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock said the news of Ifthekar Jaman’s death should not spark a ‘backlash’ against the community.

He said: ‘It is a real tragedy for the family. My heart goes out to them. I would implore all young Muslims, please don’t do this. If you want to help, raise money for the humanitarian cause for Syria.’