IS Fighter's British Accent No Surprise in Foley Beheading


The fighter in the Islamic State's (IS) August 19, 2014 beheading video of James Foley has prompted intense reactions among Westerners. As the unidentified fighter's nationality was confirmed to be British, Prime Minster David Cameron cancelled his vacation to assist in what has quickly become an international investigation to identify this man. But while the execution marks a newly elevated step by IS to challenge the West, the fighter's British nationality should be of no shock.

Since the beginning of IS's rise to power through what has been a powerful and sophisticated recruitment campaign, Western jihadists have been flocking to Syria and, as of recently, Iraq. Among these Western jihadists have been hundreds of British nationals. More, many of these Brits have been leading an active presence on social media and have also been featured in media produced by IS media outlets—most heavily by that of al-Hayat Media Center, IS's leading media arm for Western recruitment. It was also al-Hayat that released the video of James Foley's beheading.

Indicative of British fighters' strong presence within IS is that they have gone as far to set up their own media group called "Rayat Al Tawheed," which regularly reaches out to British prospects while promoting the accounts of English-speaking jihadists. Posts from the group on Twitter include videos, pictures, and commentary on current events. A Rayat Al Tawheed tweet made on August 21, 2014, for example, touched on Britain's increasing crackdowns on jihadists, stating, "Soon it will be illegal to pray fajr at the mosque in the UK. Time for Hijra [migration] O Muslims." Other content from the group has included pictures of fallen fighters and videos of armed fighters recounting battles.

To help illustrate the British presence within IS, SITE Intelligence Group has compiled the following videos containing statements and appearances by IS British fighters along with their respective transcripts.

"A Message from a ISIS Mujahid"
Rayat Al Tawheed
January 9, 2014

In an audio message released online, an alleged British fighter with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) castigated those who find fault with the mujahideen and called for them to emigrate to Syria. The English-language audio message, titled "A Message from a ISIS Mujahid," was shared to the Rayat Al Tawheed's Youtube page on January 9, 2014. The one minute and twenty-two second message was produced by the Rayat al-Tawheed jihadi media group, who promoted it as "just a short clip of an audio we are looking to release in the coming weeks."

Abu Abdullah and Abu Baseer
"Blame of The Blamers"
Rayat al-Tawheed
May 9, 2014

A video from Rayat al-Tawheed, a media group whose productions feature British fighters with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), called for Western Muslims to encourage their male family members to fight in Syria. Through the message, titled "Blame of The Blamers," a fighter urged Western Muslims to disregard counter-terrorism campaigns aimed at getting families to prevent their sons from traveling to Syria for jihad.

Abu Muthanna al-Yemeni, Abu Bara' al-Hindi, and Abu Dujana al-Hindi
"There is No Life Without Jihad"
al-Hayat Media Center
June 19, 2014

Five fighters identified as Australian and British nationals incited Muslims to participate in jihad in Syria in an English video released by the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham (ISIS). The 13 minute, 26 second video, entitled, "There is No Life Without Jihad," was produced by the ISIS' al-Hayat Media Center, and was posted on its Twitter account on June 19, 2014.

[Abu Muthanna al-Yemeni]

[Abu Bara' al-Hindi]

[Abu Dujana al-Hindi]

Abu Abdullah
"Wings Over Sham"
Rayat al-Tawheed
July 29, 2014

In the five minute video entitled "Wings Over Sham," published on YouTube and publicized by the group's Twitter account, the British speaker, Abu Abdullah, states that during a battle which lasted for 23 hours, the group experienced a miracle or a blessing when Allah "had brought calmness upon" the fighters.

Abu Abdullah al-Habashi
"Eid Greetings from the Land of Khilafah"
al-Hayat Media Center
August 2, 2014

The Islamic State (IS) released a video of foreign fighters from Europe, North Africa, South Africa, Southeast Asia, and the United States promoting jihad and the "Caliphate" announced by the group. The 20 minute, 52 second video, entitled, "Eid Greetings from the Land of Khilafah," was produced by the IS' al-Hayat Media Center, and was posted on its account on the social networking website Diaspora on August 2, 2014. 6 minutes and 15 seconds into the video, a British fighter by the name Abu Abdullah al-Habashi gives an interview regarding his time with the Islamic State. In this interview, the believed cameraman, who may also be British, asks al-Habashi what he has been up to and what he thinks of living in the Islamic State.

"A Message to America"
Al-Hayat Media Center
August 19, 2014


A British fighter, believed to be from the London area, blames President Barack Obama and the American government for James Foley's death. The killer also declared that the Islamic State is now a recognized as a nation state by many Muslims and that bombings against the Islamic State is to be perceived as an act of aggression towards all Muslims.

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