A teenager who missed out on a space at university because he missed the deadline for sending in applications forms is the latest PR story by Islamic State fighters.
IS say that a white British teenager joined the militant terror group and they have released a photograph of a pale, thin young man holding an AK47 assault rifle, The Times reports.
He is wearing a black t shirt and webbing – a piece of military equipment to allow fighters to carry equipment such as water bottles, magazines and first aid dressings without getting in the way of their ability to fight.
In the photo, which was posted on twitter by an English speaking blogger claiming to be in the Yemen, he has two similarly dressed fighters on either side of him and looks at the camera nervously.
One wears a turban and behind the three men is the flag of the Islamic State.
The caption reads:“Meet Jonathan Edwards — applied for UCAS (University and Colleges Admission Service) to [sic] late and wasn’t accepted in any university, so he joined the Islamic state.”
When the picture was first posted on 3rd December there was no mention that the young, floppy haired young man was a British fighter and his identity has been questioned by some who say he could well be an Australian.
Security Services have been unable to confirm the authenticity of the photograph and military experts have said that given the previous Modus Operandi of Islamic State when they can boast a Western supporter in their ranks, it is more high profile than a simple picture posted on twitter. Usually such a trophy would be circulated and celebrated amongst fellow militant fighters in Syria – it would certainly be used as a tool to boost moral particularly with winter making its presence felt.
This was backed up by Shiraz Maher of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London.
“I don’t think there’s enough evidence to say it’s a British fighter or that the picture is 100 per cent authentic,” he said. “We monitor several hundred accounts of known Syrian fighters, and we haven’t seen this picture on any of those.
“There aren’t many white English converts in Syria. If he’s happy to sit there with his face uncovered, we’d have seen it in a bigger propaganda hit.”
Reports have also been heard that a British-born man using the name Abu Adbel Malik al-Britani has been killed in Syria, along with two Canadian fighters.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe warned back in October that up to five Britons a week were joining armed groups in Syria every week.