What Is Known About Siddhartha Dhar, Suspected Militant in Latest Islamic State Video

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A masked man speaks in this still image from a handout video obtained on January 4 from a social media website. Britain was on Monday examining the Islamic State video showing a young boy in military fatigues and an older masked militant who both spoke with British accents. The propaganda video, which could not be independently verified, also shows the killing of five men accused of spying for the West. Reuters

United Kingdom authorities are working to identify a masked man who speaks with a British accent seen in a propaganda video released by the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) on Sunday in which five British spies are executed.

Two sources involved in the investigation told The Wall Street Journal that the suspect is believed to be Siddhartha Dhar, a London native who goes by the name Abu Ramaysah. An official source gave the same name to the BBC, though authorities have not publicly confirmed Dhar's involvement with the extremist group. His exact age is unknown, though the Journal describes Dhar as being in his early 30s.

Life in the U.K.

Dhar has four children and lived in Walthamstow, East London, according to the BBC. He converted to Islam from Hinduism, the religion practiced by his family. The BBC reports that he once operated a bouncy castle rental company, though the exact time at which he had this business is unclear.

Speaking with the BBC, Dhar's sister, Konika, said she is still somewhat skeptical that it is her brother who appears in the ISIS video.

"I was in a state of shock," she said. "I believed the audio to resemble, from what I remember, the voice of my brother, but having viewed the short clip in detail, I wasn't entirely convinced, which put me at ease."

Radicalization

Little is known about what caused Dhar to become radicalized, but his conversion became known to authorities prior to him traveling to Syria, the Journal reports.

While living in London, Dhar studied under the social and political activist cleric Anjem Choudary, and the two later traveled to the Middle East together, according to ABC News. While still living in London in 2014, Dhar told the news network that his religious organization, the radical group Al Muhajiroun, was calling for "a complete and utter regime change in Britain," in hopes of enforcing Sharia, or Islamic law.

In the interview, Dhar referred to jihad as "noble." "We're Muslim first, Muslim second, Muslim last," he told ABC News.

Escape to Syria

In September 2014, Dhar was one of nine men British police arrested for extremism offenses. He was arrested on suspicion of acting as a member of Al Muhajiroun—led by notorious British jihadi Anjem Choudary—and encouraging extremism. Choudary was also one of the men arrested. Police confiscated Dhar's passport to prevent his travel, but did not detain him.

But a day later, Dhar boarded a bus from London to Paris with his wife and four children without any apparent questioning from British or French authorities. From France, he launched his journey out of Europe's borders to ISIS's self-proclaimed caliphate in Syria. Upon arriving in Syria and becoming a member of the extremist group, Dhar boasted about his exploits on social media, in what was an embarrassing episode for British Home Secretary Theresa May.

"What a shoddy security system Britain must have to allow me to breeze through Europe to the Islamic State," he tweeted. He also said that he and his "Lord" had "made a mockery of British intelligence and surveillance."

Time With ISIS

After his initial arrival in Syria, Dhar penned a comprehensive guide to the radical militant group's caliphate, in a bid to attract "cosmopolitan" foreign fighters. The 46-page PDF details ISIS in sections, including information on food, weather, transport, technology, people and education.

In the document, which depicts a battle for the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem on the front cover, Dhar calls the caliphate a "transnational empire" that "screams diversity" and compares it to a "plush holiday resort." He writes of his plans for a vast "transport network" in the caliphate, which could include "hovercrafts, trams, microlites, cable cars or perhaps a new creation."

Dhar continued his recruitment drive by describing "succulent" dishes that would beat "anything from your local Tescos or Walmart," and ne brags of Western chocolate's prevalence in the caliphate. "Snickers, Kit Kat, Bounty, Twix, Kinder Surprise, Cadburysyes, yes we have it all."

Using similar rhetoric to that of the masked militant in ISIS's latest propaganda video, Dhar said that the group will "descend on the streets of London, Paris and Washington to "spill your blood...erase your history...convert your children."

Other than Dhar's propaganda guide, he has not been pictured in any ISIS battles, and it remains unknown if he has fought for the group on the battlefield. However, he has been pictured in Syria posing with automatic weapons while holding a baby and dressed in military attire alongside what appears to be a downed aircraft.