A British jihadi who admitted having joined Isis in Syria and carrying a kalashnikov claimed he did not kill anyone but “played PlayStation and went for bike rides’ while in Raqqa.
Shabazz Suleman, a former grammar school student from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, was captured by the Free Syrian Army on the Turkish border trying to flee Isis about two weeks ago.
The 22 year-old recognised he had been “naive” when he decided to join the terror group three years ago when he crossed into Syria while on a holiday in Turkey. But he denied being a criminal or a terrorist.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Suleman said: “I take responsibility, I was with Isis, I was with a terrorist organisation but I mean I didn’t kill anyone, I hope I didn’t oppress anyone. I mean I did have a kalashnikov and a military uniform but I didn’t hit anyone.”
Mr Suleman said his decision to join Isis in 2015 after the terror group declared a caliphate across Syria and Iraq “wasn’t about beheading or killing” but that he wanted to “defend the Syrians”.
He added his intention was “not really to fight” but he quickly found himself on the frontline on the Iraq border.
He claimed that while the battle was raging in Raqqa, he was “just relaxing, hiding in Raqqa” with Syrian civilians “playing PlayStation or going around on bike rides” and leading “a normal life but just in Isis territory”.
Mr Suleman attempted to present himself as far removed from the horrific accounts coming out of Raqqa since its capture by Isis in 2014.
“I didn’t participate in the battle,” he said. “I was reinforcement, I was basically reinforcement.”
Asked whether he thought people would believe his story, he answered “no” and acknowledged it was “very weird” but said he wanted to write a book about Isis.
This is not the first time a former Isis member has been caught attempting to flee the group’s former territories in Syria and Iraq and made claims about his supposed lack of involvement in atrocities.
Courts in Iraq have sentenced foreign fighters to death, while those hoping to return to Western countries like the UK face prosecution.
In July, Harry Sarfo, a former London postman who joined Isis in 2015, denied killing in media interviews but was later charged with involvement in a public execution where six prisoners were shot dead in Raqqa.
Mr Suleman said he hoped to return to the UK, where the Government has vowed to prosecute foreign fighters for terror offences and other crimes committed abroad, like murder.
He added that he hopes to serve only a short prison term before being able to return to his life and study politics.
At least 425 British Isis members are thought to have returned to the UK – the largest cohort in Europe.
A total of 850 people are known to have travelled to warzones in Syria and Iraq from the UK but there are fears many have “disappeared” from the view of security services.