15th Dec, 2017

Three city teenagers wanted to be ISIS 'fighters' when living in Coventry

Coventry Editorial 4th May, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

THREE Coventry teenagers who travelled to Syria to fight for Islamic State stated they wanted to be ‘fighters’ on their application forms, a new investigation has revealed.

Rashed Amani and Ali Kalantar, both aged 19, and then 18-year-old Mohammed Hadi, left Coventry and travelled to Syria in March 2014 to fight for so-called Islamic State in Syria (ISIS).

Now an investigation by Sky News has revealed the trio’s answers to a mandatory, 23-question IS registration form.

When given the options of fighter, suicide bomber or ‘infiltrator’ Amani, Kalantar and Hadi all selected the role of fighters.

Rashed Amani. Credit:¬†International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR), King’s College London

The information, which is among tens of thousands of IS documents leaked to the news agency earlier this year, also reveals the teenagers refused to say who sponsored them on their journey to IS – leaving their grieving families with more unanswered questions.

Rashed Amani, Ali Kalantar and Mohammed Hadi vanished from their Coventry homes in March 2014 to join hundreds of other Brits believed to be fighting alongside the violent, terrorist rebels.

It is understood Rashed had been studying business at Coventry University and Ali was preparing to study computer science before they left to join ISIS.

Both have since been reported killed in drone strikes in Syria and Iraq, while Mohammed Hadi is still believed to be alive and fighting for IS.

At the time of their disappearance, it was thought the teenagers had been ‘groomed’ and ‘radicalised’ by a local religious leader or via social media.

Mohammed Hadi. Credit: International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR), King’s College London

But a close friend of Rashed Amani said his recruitment had come as a shock – describing his as a normal business student who enjoyed visiting local shisha bars with his girlfriend.

Speaking to Sky News, Sharan Ali said: “He doesn’t like a fighter – he was a normal guy.

“I loved Rashed like my brother, I loved him like a good friend.”

Mr Ali said business student Rashed’s appearance had not changed in the week before he left for Syria and that he had never spoken to him about IS.

The trio left Coventry and caught a plane from Birmingham Airport to Frankfurt, before taking connecting flights to Turkey before crossing the border into Syria.

Ali Kalantar. Credit: International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR), King’s College London

West Midlands Police’s Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) has released a list of warning signs to parents of family members of young people secretly planning to travel to Syria.

While the list includes asking for passports and important documents, saving for money, and researching travel plans, officers warn the signs are not always obvious and urges families to remain vigilant and contact police with any concerns.

Head of West Midlands CTU, Det Chief Supt Sue Southern added: “We have seen in the West Midlands the devastation caused to families when young people – men and women – travel to Syria.

“We need families to come forward if they have concerns. We have partners across the region who are working with us to help support those who are vulnerable to negative influences.

“But that 101 call into the police needs to come as early as possible to give us the best chance of preventing a tragedy.”

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