During a two-hour interview with The Telegraph, Muhammad Saqib Raza, who’s among the UK citizens detained by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and accused of being a member of Daesh*, has claimed that he is the victim of a sophisticated kidnapping plot, which duped him into the self-proclaimed caliphate.
“Maybe you will believe me, maybe you won’t. As a doctor I was very moved by what was happening in Syria, but I never wanted to go over there. To be honest, I was not brave enough,” The Telegraph cited him as saying, emphasizing that the man speaks English without accent and never takes his eyes off the camera.
The Pakistan-born man told the media outlet that back in 2016, he left the UK for Turkey to escape paying a tidy sum for a broken marriage – he should have owed a £200,000 dowry payment to his wife’s family in the event of a divorce.
He claimed that he traveled to Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, to purchase a property, and while he was out for dinner one night, he was approached by a man, who eventually turned out to be a Daesh recruiter.
“We started chatting and he found out about me and he said: ‘Wow, I’m a recruiter of doctors in Turkey. He told me my services could be used at a hospital, he told me other foreign doctors were there and that Turkey had no problem with us entering Syria,” Raza told The Telegraph, adding that he didn’t realize the man had ties to Daesh. “I thought it would look good on my CV, he sold me an opportunity.”
The NHS doctor told The Telegraph that he first heard of Daesh in 2013, and described their “version of Islam” as sick. He also claimed that he tried to escape, but was captured and imprisoned.
Raza further told the newspaper that he never treated any patients during his detention in Daesh territory, and denied being part of any fighting.
During the battle for Raqqa in January, he was ultimately caught by SDF fighters.
“What can I say? I am a naïve person. I never thought I could fall into this situation. I shouldn’t have believed the people who took me to Syria.”
He, however, maintains that he was in Syria with Daesh against his will.
The SDF has detained over 500 Daesh mercenaries, including from the UK, while banishing the terrorist group from the north of Syria. The Kurdish fighters claimed they wouldn’t try foreign militants and urged governments to take them back.
*Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/IS) is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries.