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University student who ran away to join ISIS 'is killed trying to escape from jail in Syria'

A University of Westminster student who ran away to join ISIS died while being held in prison in Syria.

Ishak Mostefaoui, who travelled to Syria in 2014 and had his British citizenship revoked, is said to have died while trying to escape custody in the country.

The 27-year-old, originally from east London, died amid serious disorder in a jail in Hassakeh, which holds ISIS prisoners from across the world.

Mostefaoui was captured in Syria last year and held in a prison in north-east of the country controlled by the US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. 

Former University of Westminster student Ishak Mostefaoui, 27, has died in prison in Syria after reportedly trying to escape having fled the UK to join ISIS in 2014

Former University of Westminster student Ishak Mostefaoui, 27, has died in prison in Syria after reportedly trying to escape having fled the UK to join ISIS in 2014

Mohammed Emwazi - Jihadi John - was also a Westminster student. He appeared in videos in which he killed Western hostages before being killed in an airstrike

Mohammed Emwazi – Jihadi John – was also a Westminster student. He appeared in videos in which he killed Western hostages before being killed in an airstrike

The former student was one of as many as nine University of Westminster students to fight for ISIS.

Fellow student Zakariyya Elogbani abandoned his business management degree at the University of Westminster to join the jihadis in 2014. 

Mostefaoui was one of 10 British men and 30 British women being held by the Syrian Democratic Forces.

The Westminster University jihadis

Ishak Mostefaoui may have been radicalised in 2013 and travelled to Syria with Elogbani. He had his British citizenship revoked for ISIS activities in 2018.

Zakariyya Elogbani studied at Westminster in 2013 but left for Syria in 2014. He was detained there last year.  

Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John, graduated in 2009. He killed Western captives on film for ISIS and was killed in 2015.

Elogbani gave the BBC noms de guerres of another three fellow students he said had been killed fighting for ISIS. The BBC identified one as Qasim Abukar, a hardened jihadist who previously fought with a militant group in Somalia.

His brother Makhzumi Abukar was jailed for a million-pound fraud which was linked to the terror group, police believe.

Akram Sabah left the university in 2011. He and his brother were killed in fighting in September 2013. 

Mohamed Jakir, a jihadi killed in Syria in 2014 after seven weeks in country, was also reportedly a Westminster University student. 

The prison he was held in, which was a converted school, has experienced several riots this year.

All travel to Syria has been advised against by the Foreign Office, according to the Government

A Government spokesperson told the BBC: ‘Those who chose to leave the UK and fight for, or support, Daesh potentially pose a very serious national security risk.’

Mostefaoui’s father Abderrahmane said his family came to London when his son was five and that the household opposed extremism.

He was a popular, football-loving boy radicalised, his father believes, by people at University of Westminster in around 2013.

In April 2014, Mostefaoui said he was going to Amsterdam for a few days. 

Then they heard nothing for a month before he called to say he was in Syria. 

His father ‘collapsed’ when he heard the news.

Mostefaoui is among those ISIS fighters to have had his citizenship removed. 

In January 2019, his wife and young son died, and he was badly injured, when his house was bombed. 

He was being held in detention before his death.

Of around 900 people who have left the UK for Syria to join violent Islamist groups, 20 per cent have died, 40 per cent have returned to the UK, and 40 per cent are still in the region, according to ministers.

A University of Westminster spokeswoman told MailOnline last year: ‘The University takes its responsibility in relation to safeguarding and to the development of positive global citizens very seriously.

She said the report noted that: ‘Most of what the Panel heard and saw was most heartening. 

‘Like the Security Services, the Panel found no evidence at all to support journalistic claims that the University of Westminster was a breeding-ground for extremism’. 

She added where the panel did highlight points for action, the University took steps to address these in line with its ‘absolute priority to safeguard its community’.

She said: ‘As a University which has wellbeing at its heart, Westminster has a strong pastoral and interfaith focus providing care and support to its community of 20,000 students from more than 150 countries.’

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