A London mosque has distanced itself from one of its former worshippers after she vowed to become the first female jihadi to kill a western prisoner in Syria.
Khadijah Dare, from Lewisham in south-east London, said she wanted to carry out a copycat killing following the brutal murder of American journalist James Foley.
The 22-year-old Londoner, who moved to Syria in 2012 with her Swedish husband and Islamic State fighter Abu Bakr, took to Twitter to praise the killing. She wrote: “Any links 4 da execution of da journalist plz. Allahu Akbar. UK must b shaking up ha ha. I wna b da 1st UK woman 2 kill a UK or US terorrist!”
Dare, who previously posted a picture of her toddler son posing with an AK47 rifle, is thought to have been a regular at the Lewisham Islamic Centre, which was allegedly linked to Michael Adebolajo, the killer of fusilier Lee Rigby.
On Friday a spokesman for the centre said that, had Dare sought advice before travelling to Syria, it would have dissuaded her from “taking the particular action that she did despite us fully understanding why young men and women may be motivated to travel to Syria because of the tragic human suffering taking place there”.
The centre said in a statement: “It is rather unfortunate that time and time again, the media do not seem to understand that whether or not any individual who has ever prayed in the mosque has gone on to be involved in acts that are considered to be illegal, that this should in no way reflect on the mosque or on the message the mosque imparts.
“In this instance, the young woman’s desire to travel to Syria has nothing to do with the Centre and/or any one of its staff. Unfortunately, the Muslim community are being subjected to a burden of proof based on a ‘guilty by association’ standard.”
In a later statement, the mosque said it was outraged at being asked to condemn the tweet, describing enquiries as “loaded with an islamophobic assumption that Muslims by default condone such brutality”.
A community leader in Lewisham, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the situation, said there were concerns that some of the mosque’s previously loyal worshippers felt alienated by a group of British-Somali radicals said to have recently started attending the mosque.
Scotland Yard said: “Police in Lewisham have been working closely with the Lewisham Islamic centre for a number of years. We maintain regular contact with its leaders who update us on any concerns they may have about crime or antisocial behaviour.
“We have no knowledge of any complaints, concerns or allegations of crime regarding the running of Lewisham Islamic Centre.”
The Guardian should know better than to repeat the baseless assertion, originating in a witch-hunting article in the Telegraph, that Lewisham Islamic Centre was in any way “linked to Michael Adebolajo”.
Here is the full text of the Lewisham Islamic Centre statement quoted in the above report:
First and foremost, let’s be clear, Islam prohibits the killing of any civilian regardless of nationality, ideology or creed. Let us further make clear that the principles and maxims of justice in Islam are unparalleled. Allah says in the Glorious Qur’an:
“Oh you who believe! Be ever steadfast in upholding equity and justice, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of God, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents and kin. Whether the person concerned be rich or poor, God’s claim takes precedence over [the claims of] either of them. Do not, then, follow your own desires, lest you swerve from justice. If you distort [the truth] or decline to do justice, then [know that] God is indeed aware of all that you do.” [Qur’an 4:135]
The killing of James Foley, a man who put his life at risk trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people at the hands of the tyrant, Bashar was wrong on all levels, barbaric and inhumane carried out by a senseless group of criminals whose actions represent Islam as much as cannibals eating dead Muslim corpses in Central African Republic represent Christianity. The psychology of ISIS is one so brute that it is even alien in the animal kingdom.
In relation to this tragic murder, there has been much media speculation, in recent news, that Khadijah Dare (the woman who made grossly crude and insensitive comments about this case via social media) attended our Centre as she was a resident in this Borough. As we have previously stated, our Centre is open to the public like any other place of worship, and has many people, Muslim and non-Muslim attending, as we are the largest Mosque in the London Borough of Lewisham.
It is rather unfortunate that time and time again, the media do not seem to understand that whether or not any individual, who has ever prayed in the mosque, has gone on to be involved in acts that are considered to be illegal, that this should in no way reflect on the mosque. In this instance, the young woman’s desire to travel to Syria or her desire, as expressed in a recent Tweet to kill innocent people, has nothing to do with the Centre and/or any one of its staff. Mrs Dare’s decision to travel to Syria and the comments that she makes are entirely of her volition and certainly do not reflect the centre’s ethos or teachings.
Unfortunately, the Muslim community are being subjected to a burden of proof based on a “guilty by association” standard – something which we did not see during the recent Gaza offensive, for example, when no one asked British Jews to apologise for Israeli war crimes and rightly so. This is despite the fact that some British Jews fight in the IDF. It should also not be forgotten that when speaking of ISIS, we are speaking about a group whose victims have mostly been Muslims, even though the world and media alike have only really taken notice in view of recent events.
We consider Muslims being asked to condemn the death of the innocent James Foley as rather insulting given that it comes loaded with an islamophobic assumption that Muslims by default condone such brutality. All innocent lives taken in the pursuit of an ideal is tragic irrespective of whether it is carried out by the rogue ideology of ISIS members or by nation states – evil is evil and they are but two sides of the same coin, imbued with hate and greedy pursuits.
Our thoughts are with Mr Foley’s family at this difficult time and the families of all those who have perished in the recent conflicts in Gaza, Syria, Burma, Central African Republic, Ukraine and indeed, Iraq.