UK

British Jihadist, Jaffar Deghayes, 17, Dies Fighting In Syria, Just Six Months After His Brother's Death

28/10/2014 15:23 GMT | Updated 28/10/2014 16:59 GMT
PA

A devastated father has revealed he has lost a second son out of three fighting in war-torn Syria, despite pleading with them to return home.

Jaffar Deghayes, 17, is believed to have died at the weekend after leaving his home near Brighton earlier this year in a bid to overthrow the government of dictator Bashar Al-Assad.

His brother, Abdullah, 18, died in Latakia province in April after leaving the UK in January to reportedly take up arms with Jabhat al-Nusra, an al Qaeda-affiliated group.

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Jaffar Deghayes, 17

syria deaths

His brother, Abdullah, 18

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Yesterday the pair's brother, Amer, 20, who also travelled to Syria, relayed news of the death of Jaffar to their heartbroken father, Abubaker Deghayes, back home in Saltdean, East Sussex.

Mr Deghayes said: "Amer sent me a message via the internet. All I know is that (Jaffar) was fighting against Assad and was killed in battle.

"I don't know much else. I can only hope and pray to God to accept him and have mercy on him."

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Abubaker Deghayes is grieving for the loss of two sons

Back in June, Mr Deghayes had pleaded for his remaining sons to come home.

"Amer, Jaffar, if you see me or this interview please, please come back home. Enough. This war has taken away Abdullah already," he said.

"I'd like to see you live longer… why are you going there, it's not worth it. You have to stick to helping in the refugee camps and doing the humanitarian work".

"I am scared for my children," he added.

When asked in June whether he believed his son Abdullah was a martyr, Mr Deghayes replied: "Of course I think, as a Muslim, that my son is a martyr. Anyone who dies for a just cause is a martyr."

In a candid interview in June, the oldest brother Amer told Vice News that his younger brother was "a lion" and spoke of how he "had a duty."

Saying he "would look after him", Amer said: "You know, it was his choice, he didn't tell anyone that he was coming and he just came here.

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Amer Deghayes, 20

"But now obviously he can't go back, and he has a duty as well, and he really feels strongly about what he is willing to do. So all my job is now is to make sure he does things correctly and he doesn't go astray. And I'll look after him"

"I wouldn't advise him to go home because of the campaigns and the policies about people returning home. We come here, we live in honour, why would you go back to prison?"

Amer said he kept his departure a secret from his parents due to their "selfishness" and added that his brother Abdullah was killed for a "really good cause".

Visibly upset, his brother said "his death was a sign of martyrdom… as he fell back he laughed and he smiled."

BBC Newsnight reporter Secunder Kermani took to Twitter to speak of the time he met the young brothers in Syria.

Messages of remembrance and condolence for Jaffar have also appeared on his uncle's Facebook page.

Omar Deghayes wrote: "As you grieve, know that we are remembering you and honouring the memory of a sincere and truthful young man (deceased).

"May the peace which comes from Allah accept yours."

Another poster wrote: "Oh God, forgive him and mercy."

A woman who lives nearby the family, but did not wish to be named, said: "To lose one son is awful, but to lose two so close together is unimaginable.

"The family must be going through a terrible time. I don't understand why these teenagers are putting their lives at risk like this."

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The Deghayes brothers are the nephew of Omar Deghayes, who was held by the United States as an enemy combatant at Guantanamo Bay detention camp between 2002 and 2007 after he was arrested in Pakistan.

Following the death of Abdullah, counter-terrorism officers raided the Deghayes' family home in May and seized material after a warrant was issued under the Terrorism Act 2000.

"Our sons are independent and they decide for themselves," Mr Deghayes said at the time, saying their treatment as a family was unjustified.

Mr Deghayes has previously said that his three sons could have helped the cause in Syria from the UK by lobbying the government.

But in the Vice film this year, Amer said he had no intention of returning to Britain, adding: "My work here is not done.

"I came here to give victory to the people and make sure that they receive justice, and we still haven't reached the goal yet."

He added: "I'm in the Syrian civil war because I believe it's my duty to fight here ...The Muslim nation is like one body.

"If one part complains, the other parts react, so I don't see it as a Syrian conflict. I see it as an Islamic conflict."

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Brits are travelling to war-torn Syria

Counter-terrorism investigators have expressed concern about aspiring British jihadis travelling to Syria and becoming radicalised.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said last week that five Britons are joining Islamic State militants every week, with more than 500 already having travelled to join the conflict.

“The drumbeat of terrorism in the UK” had become “faster and more intense” because of the conflict, he warned.

It emerged this month that a fourth man from Hampshire - 19-year-old Muhammad Mehdi Hassan - died fighting in Kobani.

The family of the Portsmouth teenager killed said he was "impressionable and naive".

Hassan went to the war-torn country with a group of friends who called themselves the Britani Brigade Bangladeshi Bad Boys.

His mother, who did not want to be identified, described her son as a "loving, gentle and a kind boy" and said the group were "normal teenagers with good education working in a bank".

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Mehdi Hassan, the jihadist killed in Syria

Three others from the same city - Iftekar Jaman, 23, Mamunur Roshid, 24, and Muhammad Hamidur Rahman, 25 - have also been killed after travelling there in October last year.

In January alone, 16 people were arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences related to Syria compared with 24 arrests in the whole of last year.

Others who have died include one man suspected of carrying out a suicide attack.

Abdul Waheed Majeed, 41, is believed to have driven a lorry to a jail in Aleppo before detonating a bomb in February.

abdul waheed majeed

Abdul Waheed Majeed, 41,

The married father-of-three, who was born and raised in Crawley, West Sussex, left Britain in 2013, telling his family he was going on a humanitarian mission to Syria.

Sussex Police urged anyone who has concerns or information about anyone locally planning to travel to Syria or Iraq to contact the force.

If you have any information about possible terrorist preparations, please call the national anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789 321.