British student who joined Daesh killed in SDF prison

British student who joined Daesh killed in SDF prison
Conditions in SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) prisons have deteriorated in the past year due to a variety of factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic. (AFP)
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Updated 12 July 2020

British student who joined Daesh killed in SDF prison

British student who joined Daesh killed in SDF prison
  • Circumstances of death remain unclear
  • Conditions in SDF prisons for former Daesh fighters and their families have deteriorated rapidly this year

LONDON: A student who left Britain to join Daesh in Syria has died while being held in a prison run by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

There is conflicting information about the cause of Ishek Mostefaoui’s death.

One source told the BBC that the 27-year-old, who grew up in east London, was shot while attempting to escape custody, while another claimed he died during riots in a Hassakeh jail, which holds Daesh prisoners from various countries.

The SDF, a US-backed Kurdish-led militia with a significant Arab contingent, has not confirmed the cause of his death.

Mostefaoui was one of around 10 British men and 30 British women being held by the SDF, but he was the first to die in custody.

The former Westminster University student secretly traveled to Syria in 2014 after telling his father that he was going to Amsterdam.

His UK citizenship was revoked in 2018. The UK government has said citizens who fought for Daesh should be put on trial in the region.

Of the estimated 900 people who left the UK for Syria to join violent extremist groups, 20 percent have died, 40 percent have returned to the UK and 40 percent remain in the region.

The SDF has urged foreign states such as the UK to take responsibility for their citizens, warning that Daesh prisoners were “a time bomb” earlier this year.

The group said: “We need to set up international courts, under UN jurisdiction, and try them in northeastern Syria where they perpetrated their crimes.”

The resource-starved militia is responsible for hosting thousands of former Daesh fighters and their families in prisons across northeastern Syria.

Conditions in the prisons have deteriorated significantly in the past year, and several riots have broken out.

In March, foreign fighters in Hassakeh prison, where Mostefaoui was held, staged a major mutiny and seized an entire floor of the prison while attempting to escape. The prisoners cited concerns over COVID-19 as justification for the rioting.