Wales

Aseel Muthana: Imprisoned Cardiff jihadist wants to return

Aseel Muthana Image copyright Channel 4
Image caption Aseel Muthana, now 22, was 17 when he left a part-time job selling ice cream to travel to join so-called Islamic State in Syria

A Cardiff man who left the UK to join the so-called Islamic State group and is being held prisoner in a Syrian jail has said he would like to return.

At the age of 17, Aseel Muthana left to join his older brother Nasser in Syria.

In a Channel 4 News interview from an overcrowded prison in north-eastern Syria, Mr Muthana said he would prefer to be imprisoned in the UK, adding "anything is better than here".

The 22-year-old added he still had ambitions to "make a change".

"In the beginning I didn't think twice about it because my brother joined them - I looked up to my brother," he told Dutch journalist Janan Andert for Channel 4.

Shortly after he arrived in Syria in 2014, Mr Muthana, who had left a part-time job selling ice cream in Cardiff, told BBC Wales he was "glad" he was there and was "willing to die" for the group.

Image copyright Channel 4
Image caption The prison where Mr Muthana is living is said to be overcrowded

He said he left the UK because he "wanted to help the Syrians" and claimed he worked as a translator for the Islamist group and was not among those fighting against US-backed Kurdish forces.

Mr Muthana said he would prefer to return to the UK, even if it meant spending decades in prison, adding: "Anything is better than here. At least if I go back they will give you rights."

Asked whether he blamed anyone for his current situation, he said he blamed himself.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Aseel Muthana says he travelled to Syria because he looked up to his older brother Nasser (centre) seen here in a video aimed at recruiting jihadists

"I was 17 - young, but old enough to get on a plane and come here," he said.

"I wanted to become a teacher when I was young. When I was 17, that was my goal and until now that was my goal, although my chances are limited.

"But still, if I ever leave, I don't know, I'll still try to make a change I guess."

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites