British IS recruiter Sally Jones killed in US drone strike: Report
A British recruiter for the Islamic State group has been killed in a US drone strike in Syria, according to a report.
Sally Jones was last seen fleeing Raqqa, IS’s former capital in Syria, according to CIA sources, the Sun newspaper reported on Thursday.
The news of Jones’ death was initially unreported over fears that the drone strike also killed her 12-year-old son, Jojo, whom she took with her when she left the UK for IS’s so-called caliphate in Syria in 2013.
Shiraz Maher, deputy director at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, told MEE that if the reports of her death are true, it was a significant development.
“If these reports are true, it means Sally Jones was targeted [by] a drone strike.
“That would be the first woman I know of who’s been specifically targeted in this way.”
Known as Umm Hussain al-Britani, Jones was nicknamed the “White Widow” by tabloid media, and was a recruiter for IS. She was a high-value target for the US, and on a UN sanctions list.
She travelled to Syria where she met with and married computer hacker Junaid Hussain, also an IS recruiter. He was killed in a US drone strike in Syria in 2015.
Via social media, Jones encouraged other women to join IS, and, according to her Interpol notice, wrote extremist comments including “You Christians all need beheading with a nice blunt knife and stuck on the railings at Raqqa... Come here I’ll do it for you.”
She also encouraged followers to carry out attacks in the UK.
If her son was also killed, Maj Gen Chip Chapman, the former head of counter-terrorism at the Ministry of Defence told the Press Association, it was a difficult question under the laws of war.
“It is a difficult one because under the UN Charters he is under the age of what we would classify as a soldier,” said Chapman. According to the Sun, Jones used her son as a human shield.
But US officials told the Sun they could not be certain she had been killed, as they could not collect DNA evidence from the ground.
British Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman refused on Thursday to comment on the Sun report.
"I've seen the reports, I don't have any comments to make in relation to this specific case," the spokesman told Reuters. He repeated government advice warning against all travel to Syria.
A spokesperson for the US-led coalition against IS, US Colonel Ryan Dillon, tweeted that he could not confirm the death.
Rukmini Callimachi, a New York Times journalist who has written extensively about IS, cast doubts over the report.