IS hacker Junaid Hussain thought killed in Syria strike

US source cites confidence top Islamic State operative ‘Abu Hussain al-Britani’ is dead

British computer hacker Junaid Hussain is reported to have been killed in a US drone strike in Syria. File photograph: iStockphoto

A British computer hacker accused of being a prominent member of the Islamic State terror group is reported to have been killed in a US drone strike in Syria.

Junaid Hussain (21), from Birmingham, who also became known as Abu Hussain al-Britani, is thought to have died in a coalition air strike, according to US officials, who are said to be in the final stages of confirming the news.

A US defence source was quoted as saying they have a “high level of confidence” Hussain had been killed.

A British government spokesman said: “We are aware of reports that an [IS] terrorist of British nationality is believed to have been killed in a coalition air strike in Syria.”


Important figure

Since escaping to Syria, he is reported to have been an important figure in Islamic State’s online recruitment, radicalisation and hacking network.

Hussain’s activities have made him a key target for the US military, who included him at number three on a Pentagon “kill list” of IS leaders.

The strike is thought to have targeted Hussain while he was travelling in a vehicle in Syria, US sources were quoted as saying.

Hussain, who was married to former punk singer Sally Jones, is thought to have fled to Syria in 2013 while he was on bail in the UK.

The 45-year-old Muslim convert Jones, a former singer from Chatham, Kent, is thought to have sneaked into Syria at the end of 2014, following an online romance with Hussain.

Hussain, who once lived in a leafy street in the city’s Kings Heath area, was jailed for six months in 2012 after admitting making nuisance calls to a counter-terror hotline and leaking Tony Blair’s address book online.

A neighbour, visibly upset by news of his death, said she believed Hussain’s family had “found out it happened three weeks ago”.

“They haven’t been out of the house in three weeks, and I feared what had happened then. But I’d heard nothing about it, until now.

“People must think he had come from a dreadful family, but it couldn’t be further from the truth.

“They [his parents] tried to stop him going. They were very upset when he did go, and they have been ever since.”

She added: “He was a teenager who went off the rails.

“He wasn’t radicalised by a mosque, or by them [IS], he was radicalised by a computer.”

‘Polite young man’

The woman, who has known the family for 10 years, said Hussain had been an intelligent and polite young man.

He had attended the nearby Wheelers Lane college and studied IT at the city’s Aston University, she added.

“He certainly wasn’t the one beheading people, he was a quiet, shy boy, and always polite,” said the neighbour.

In June this year, Hussain was linked with an IS plot to attack an Armed Forces Day parade in south London.

It was reported that the plan to explode a pressure cooker bomb - killing soldiers and bystanders on the route - failed after Hussain unwittingly recruited an undercover investigator from the Sun newspaper to carry it out.

He allegedly told the investigator: "It will be big. We will hit the kuffar (unbelievers) hard InshAllah. Hit their soldiers in their own land. InshAllah. Soldiers that served in Iraq and Afghanistan will be present. Jump in the crowd and detonate the bomb.

“They think they can kill Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan then come back to the UK and be safe. We’ll hit them hard InshAllah.”

Hacker group

Hussain was a member of TeaMpOisoN (TeamPoison), a hacker group which had claimed responsibility for more than 1,400 offences where personal and private information has been illegally extracted from victims in the UK and around the world.

The group also claimed to be behind online attacks involving foreign politicians, major international businesses, an international humanitarian agency and foreign law enforcement.

A government spokesperson added: “We have consistently warned people against going to fight for Isil in Syria or Iraq.

“Isil has declared itself an enemy of the UK and those who have chosen to fight with Isil and subscribe to their barbaric ideology will continue be subject to coalition action to stop them killing indiscriminately, committing barbaric acts and planning terrorist acts.”

Press Association