By Sam Greenhill and Sian Boyle
6 January 2016
Police asked ‘the new Jihadi John’ to phone them and surrender his passport six weeks after he fled to join Islamic State, it emerged last night.
Officers waited a month before checking why terror suspect Siddhartha Dhar had failed to give up the travel document.
They then wrote him a polite letter asking ‘could you please contact the police on the telephone number listed above’.
Londoner Dhar is the prime suspect as the masked man in the latest IS video. The black-clad figure, seen presiding over the execution of five ‘spies’ in Syria, styles himself like Jihadi John – real name Mohammed Emwazi – who was killed in a US drone strike in November.
Photo: Number one suspect: The ISIS executioner dubbed the ‘new Jihadi John’ (left) is believed to be British fanatic Siddhartha Dhar, also known as Abu Rumaysah (right) who taunted police after skipping bail to flee to Syria.
Escape: The letter written to Dhar six weeks after he absconded to Syria – a month after he had been due to surrender his passport – apparently revealing police did not know he had fled to join the so-called Islamic State
His former classmates at Broomfield School in Enfield, North London, today spoke of their shock that Dhar could be the ISIS executioner.
Kemal Bedensel, 32, who owns a food manufacturing business, told MailOnline: ‘He was a nice kid. He wasn’t the trouble-making type.
‘If you bumped into him, he wouldn’t get rowdy. He was a smiley boy. I didn’t even know he was Muslim.’
His ability to leave Britain has raised major questions about border controls.
Lord Carlile, the former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said: ‘As I commented at the time of Dhar’s departure from the UK, the circumstances were a matter of real concern.
“Why had he been granted police bail? Was the CPS consulted? Is there sufficient scrutiny of buses leaving the UK through ferry ports?
“The Home Office should now either release all the relevant documentation so that an open analysis and judgment can be made of what occurred, or appoint an independent person to review the circumstances of Dhar’s flight from the UK and report to the Home Secretary.”
Yesterday a row erupted over how easily 32-year-old Dhar had slipped out of the UK in 2014, despite having been arrested six times and being on police bail at the time.
Within two days of his arrest the ex-bouncy castle salesman, who converted to Islamic extremism from Hinduism, had boarded a Paris-bound coach at Victoria bus station in London with his pregnant wife and four children.
In the Commons yesterday, shadow home secretary Andy Burnham brandished a copy of the farcical letter, obtained by Channel 4 News, and demanded Home Secretary Theresa May launch an inquiry into a ‘serious lapse in security’.
Dhar was arrested on suspicion of encouraging terrorism and supporting banned group Al Muhajiroun. He was freed on police bail on September 26, 2014, on condition he handed in his passport by October 3.
Almost immediately he skipped bail for Syria – yet it was not until November 7 that police wrote to him, saying: ‘It has come to our notice that [the passport] condition has not been complied with.
‘Are there any changes to your circumstances that the police need to be aware of? Could you please contact the police on the telephone number listed above as a matter of urgency?’
The letter suggests officers repeatedly knocked at his home in Walthamstow, East London, but ‘there has been no reply’.
Mr Burnham asked Mrs May: ‘Does this in any way sound adequate to the seriousness of the charges concerned? It was clear he had left the country long before this letter was sent. How can someone on bail for terrorism-related offences travel to Syria?’
He added: ‘How many other individuals are currently on bail for terror offences?’
Mrs May condemned the IS video as ‘barbaric and appalling’, but refused to comment on an ‘ongoing police investigation’.
David Anderson QC, the Government’s independent reviewer of anti-terror legislation, told BBC Radio 4’s World at One: ‘With the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to think a police officer should have accompanied this person to his home and ensured the passport was handed over.’
Keith Vaz, chairman of the home affairs select committee, said: ‘Serious questions need to be asked about what went wrong so that it never happens again.’
After joining IS, Dhar posted a photo of himself cradling his baby and brandishing an AK-47. He followed Al Qaeda preacher Omar Bakri Mohammed’s teachings, and was said to have mentored one of Lee Rigby’s murderers, Michael Adebolajo. Last year he posted an essay online defending IS executions and claiming the likes of Jihadi John had the ‘moral high ground’ over the West.
Last night his sister Konika Dhar said he had been a typical teenager. An ex-classmate at Broomfield School, north London, described him as ‘a bit of a loner’. Dhar was an Arsenal fan who liked rock bands Nirvana and Linkin Park. He would gel his hair, date girls, watch US action films and drink Baileys at Christmas and the Hindu festival Diwali.
He wanted to be a dentist, but friends claim his father’s death when he was 16 sparked a huge change. He became more and more radical and joined Muslims Against Crusades.
Dhar said in an interview on the BBC’s Sunday Morning Live in 2014: ‘Now we have this caliphate I think you’ll see many Muslims globally seeing it as an opportunity for the Koran to be realised … I would like to see the UK governed by the Sharia [law].’
In May last year, he wrote a guide to IS to recruit other Britons, boasting how ‘the caliphate offers an exquisite Mediterranean climate’ and ‘serves some of the best lattes and cappuccinos’.
FANATIC IS NOW TARGET FOR DRONE STRIKES, SAYS DOWNING STREET
David Cameron would back a drone strike on the British murderer featured in the latest IS execution video.
Downing Street suggested the PM will not hesitate to give permission to vaporise the masked fanatic seen shooting a so-called British spy in the back of the head.
Siddhartha Dhar, 32, an ex-bouncy castle salesman from East London, is the prime suspect. The IS film showing the murder of five men, released on Sunday, ended with a chilling message from a four-year-old boy who has been identified as Isa Dare, the son of British jihadi bride Grace Dare.
No 10 refused to confirm the identity of the masked jihadi. But Mr Cameron’s spokesman signalled he would be willing to sanction a drone strike, saying: ‘He will look at what action is necessary to protect British people.’
Jihadi John was killed by a drone in November.
In August, Mr Cameron gave the green light for drones to kill two other British jihadis in Syria, Ruhul Amin and Reyaad Khan.
‘I am going to kill him myself’: Dhar’s sister, Konika, admitted the voice in the ISIS execution video sounded ‘a bit like’ her brother, but did not believe it was him
Yesterday former neighbours suggested his wife Aisha may have helped to radicalise him.
Dhar has not been confirmed as the man in the video, but intelligence analysts are focusing on the ‘probability’ it is him, according to BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner.
A police source said the delay in chasing up Dhar ‘should have been flagged up quicker’ but added that ‘you can’t hold someone indefinitely while one of their relatives looks for their passport’.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: ‘Ensuring conditions of bail are met is not just the responsibility of the police service, but also involves other agencies.’