A British-Pakistani Muslim working for an Islamist blogging website in Syria has become the first person to have his citizenship revoked since 2015, for posing a “threat” to the nation.
Akif Razaq, 30, from Birmingham, was working for On The Ground News (OGN), a site set up by U.S. born convert Bilal Abdul Kareem, who has collaborated with and written for UK-based Islamist blogs 5Pillars and Islam21C.
Announcing the news in a YouTube video, Mr. Razaq said he found out about the impending punishment when police served his family with a notice on the 24th of May this year.
The notice, seen by The Times, said an assessment had confirmed Mr. Razaq “is aligned with an al-Qaeda aligned group” and that his return to the county would “present a risk to the national security of the United Kingdom”.
Speaking on YouTube, he said he planned to “fight” the decision, but said: “There’s a job still to do [in Syria]… so even if I didn’t have my citizenship revoked, I would still say ‘no it’s not the time to go home yet.’”
“I wouldn’t mind going home”, he added, “but the jobs not finished yet. I came here [and] Bashar al-Assad was in charge – he’s still in charge. There was oppression going on – there’s still oppression going on.
Mr. Razaq first travelled to Syria with an aid convoy in 2013, before joining OGN in 2015. There appears to be no evidence that he has used weapons or received combat training in Syria, The Times reports.
Mr. Kareem, who is still a U.S. citizen, was recently put on a “kill list” by American authorities because of alleged links to terrorist organisations such at al-Qaeda.
Rami Jarrah, a Syrian opposition activist, said: “They [ONG] know how dangerous what they are doing is, and how easily they could be branded as terrorists, yet they continue to provide a platform for extremist elements.
“[They] have failed to report on abuses committed by a number of extremist groups, simply because they are aligned with them”, he added.