Art and design






Life and style








US news

World news

Sally Jones: UK punk singer who became leading Isis recruiter

Sally Jones converted to Islam and travelled to Syria in 2013.
Sally Jones converted to Islam and travelled to Syria in 2013. Photograph: The Guardian

Sally Jones was a “poster woman” for Islamic State whose killing, if confirmed, would represent a significant propaganda blow to the terrorist group.

Jones, who helped recruit hundreds of women to join her in fighting jihad, was reported killed in June along with her 12-year-old-son, JoJo.

She is believed to be the first woman to be targeted in an airstrike, according to Shiraz Maher, senior research fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King’s College London.

“If these reports are true, it means Sally Jones was targeted by a drone strike. She is the first woman I know of who’s been specifically targeted in this way,” Maher said. He pointed out that she was one of only two women the US state department designated as a foreign terrorist fighter.

Jones, a former singer and guitarist in an all-female 1990s punk band called Krunch, was born in Greenwich, south-east London, and later moved to Chatham, Kent.

She is believed to have been radicalised by her late husband, Junaid Hussain, who was British. After converting to Islam she travelled to Syria to join him in 2013.

When Hussain was killed in a US drone strike in 2015, the British press began to refer to her as “the white widow”. She is not the only jihadist to be given this nickname; it has also been used for Samantha Lewthwaite – the widow of 7/7 London attacker Germaine Lindsay.

Jones’s roots in suburban south-east England led her to be portrayed as an unlikely jihadist. But her background fits a profile of foreign fighters drawn up in a World Bank study which challenged assumptions that they come from deprived backgrounds. It found that the majority of Isis recruits are, like Jones, well educated and relatively wealthy.

Jones is believed to have recruited hundreds of extremists from the UK. She was placed on a UN sanctions list that included a travel ban and freeze on assets.

Last year she issued a series of specific terrorist threats, including calling on Muslim women to launch terrorist attacks in London, Glasgow, and Wales during Ramadan.

Citing Isis documents, the international Counter Extremism Project said she was responsible for training all European female recruits in tactics including suicide missions.

Jones used various social media accounts to recruit women to Isis and provided practical advice on how to travel to Syria. Typical comments include: “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.”

Azadeh Moaveni, author of Lipstick Jihad, said Jones was one of Islamic State’s “most iconic recruiters”.

Speaking to the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, she added: “Having [Jones] on side was really important in terms of projecting the idea that Isis could get into the very furthest reaches of British society. They could pluck up this woman who was a punk rocker, who was white, who was kind of attractive and they could put her up as their kind of poster woman.”

This article titled "Sally Jones: UK punk singer who became leading Isis recruiter" was written by Matthew Weaver, for The Guardian on Thursday 12 October 2017 02.51pm

World news

Violent deaths of LGBT people in Brazil hits all-time high

Violent deaths of LGBT people in Brazil have hit an all-time high following a sudden spike last… Read more

France would have left EU in similar referendum to UK's, says Macron

The French people would probably vote to leave the EU if presented with a similar choice to the… Read more

Seven UK police forces report zero charges under anti-slavery law

At least seven police forces in England have not charged a single person under modern slavery… Read more

Germany's SPD gives cautious green light to Merkel coalition talks

Germany has inched a step closer to forming a new government after the centre-left Social… Read more

Blanchette Fluer obituary

In 1940 my mother, Blanchette Fluer, with her parents, Rachel and Bernard, and her brother, Samuel,… Read more

'I really will': the stars who didn't move to Canada when Trump won

It is a longstanding tradition of American politics: at some stage in the electoral cycle,… Read more

Kabul hotel attack: guests 'sprayed with bullets as they ran'

Witnesses to a terrorist rampage at a luxury Kabul hotel have described guests being sprayed with… Read more

Milford Track: 'World's finest walk' in danger of becoming just another bucket list tick

Dawn is hours away on a cool Fiordland night but the packed bunk rooms of Clinton Hut are seething… Read more

UN is dealing with sexual harassment | Editorial

Your report on sexual harassment at the United Nations (19 January) raises disturbing issues that… Read more

New Zealand 'six degrees of separation' experiment reaches PM Jacinda Ardern

A New Zealand school experiment to prove the six degrees of separation theory has outdone itself by… Read more