British ISIS member Sally Jones is believed to be killed in a Predator-drone strike in June.
Jones, reportedly an active online recruiter and propagandist for ISIS, was dubbed the “white widow” by the British press after her jihadi husband was killed in 2015. The Sun reported on Thursday that the CIA told their British counterparts that Jones, 50, died in an airstrike near the Syria-Iraq border. It is possible that her her 12-year-old son Jojo was killed with her.
“The Americans zapped her trying to get away from Raqqa. Quite frankly, it’s good riddance.” A British government source told the newspaper.
Their deaths have not been officially confirmed due to the inability to collect evidence from the ground. “I do not have any information that would substantiate that report but that could change and we are looking into this” Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman, told the Guardian. Other members of ISIS who have been reported dead, like ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, have re-emerged later.
How did Jones become involved with ISIS?
The London-born mother of two, the former singer in a punk band, converted to Islam in 2013 while living in the southern county of Kent. She travelled to Syria with Joe ‘Jojo’ Dixon, her youngest son from a previous relationship, later that year. She told London’s Sunday Times that her older son, who was then 18, stayed in Britain. “My older son had a girlfriend and didn’t want to come,” she told the newspaper.
Once in Syria, she married ISIS member Junaid Hussain, with whom she was having an online relationship. Hussain, a British citizen, was a convicted hacker who was previously jailed for stealing the personal details of former Prime Minister Tony Blair. He reportedly travelled to Syria in 2013 despite being on police bail.
What did she do for the group?
Both Jones and Hussain were accused of trying to recruit extremists to carry attacks out in the U.K. She was linked to around 20 Twitter accounts and posted messages of support of ISIS and extremist comments— including a picture of her dressed as a nun pointing a gun towards the camera.
Jones in particular targeted young girls to travel to Syria and become jihadi brides and her husband reportedly ran a hacking unit for ISIS. In 2016, she was accused of encouraging ISIS sympathisers to launch attacks during the holy month of Ramadan.
She was linked to a number of failed ISIS plots, including one to target the Queen, and played a role in publishing online lists of U.S. military personnel. Jones also allowed her son Jojo to take part in a propaganda video where he was apparently shooting a hostage in the back of the head with other young children.
The nickname ‘white widow’ is also attributed to Samantha Lewthwaite— the widow of the 2005 London attacker Germaine Lindsay— who has since been linked to a number of terror plots in Africa.
How did she die?
She died while attempting to flee the Syrian city of Raqqa as it came under increased attack from U.S. coalition forces and American-backed local troops on the ground. According to the Sun, her death was kept quiet over fears that her son was killed as well.
Jones was very much a wanted figure; she rose up the Pentagon “kill list” in 2017 and was placed on a UN sanctions list, which included a freeze on assets, and was slapped with a travel ban. Major Gen Chip Chapman, the former head of counter-terrorism at the Ministry of Defence, told the Press Association that she would have been a “significant” target due to her marriage to Hussain and role as a recruiter.