The Jewish community is Portsmouth was the first to develop in the English provinces, and traces its origins to the 1730s, when a number of Jewish dealers settled there as providers of merchandise and loans to sailors. The heyday of the community was in the Georgian period, and after the Napoleonic Wars many Jews drifted to other centres, with their better economic opportunities. Yet there was still a flourishing Jewish community in Portsmouth, with several Jews (including Emanuel Emanuel, a Bavarian-born silversmith who was responsible for many municipal improvements including Southsea promenade, and his apparently unrelated namesake Leon Emanuel, a jeweller whose name is known even today in the city for his charity to schools) serving as Mayor. Indeed, it was in 1964, during the mayoralty of solicitor Harry Sotnick, that Portsmouth was twinned with Haifa, a link that I believe endures. The small Jewish community has also produced its share of famous Jews, including acting brothers Wolfe and Aubrey Morris and, more recently, writer Neil Gaiman.
Perhaps the most notable Muslim resident of the city, and certainly one of the longest settled there, is Sayyid Sir Jamshid bin Abdullah Al Said GCMG, who was Sultan of Zanzibar from July 1963 to until he was overthrown in January 1964. He fled into exile in the UK with his family, choosing Portsmouth as the place to put down roots. That gentleman and his family aside, the Muslim community in Portsmouth is very much newer than its counterparts in London and the large industrial cities of the Midlands and the North, and it is also very much smaller, though it is served by two mosques and has recently opened an Islamic school.
The revelation that jihadist fighters have been recruited from that small community is, then, a salutary and shocking development.
It was stated recently, under the subheading "Portsmouth’s Bangladeshi Bad Boys", in a well-footnoted document:
"Another cluster of Britons drawn to Syria can be found in Portsmouth where a group that seems to in part echo a local da`wa (propagation) community has gone to fight in Syria alongside the ISIL. The Portsmouth Da`wa Team continues to carry out its peaceful activities in the city center, and there has been no evidence presented that it is connected to terrorism. A number of former members, however, have gone to fight in Syria. Most prominently, Iftekar Jaman, a former call center employee and son of fast food restaurant owners, became something of a celebrity jihadist through his online media profile. In November 2013, he achieved particular notoriety when he was interviewed by the BBC’s flagship Newsnight program. He was also responsible for helping to facilitate travel to Syria for two other Britons who used the pseudonyms Abu Qaqa and Abu Layth al-Khorasani. Abu Layth was later revealed to be a Manchester-born student at Liverpool University and part-time amateur boxer called Anil Khalil Raoufi. Both Raoufi and Iftekar Jaman have since been killed fighting.
Others from the Portsmouth cluster who are still fighting in Syria include former private schoolboy and fitness fanatic Muhammad Hassan. Hassan, another participant in the Portsmouth da`wa group, is a regular on social media and promotes the ISIL’s cause. In mid-November 2013, another Portsmouth man, Muhammad Hamidur Rahman, a manager at a local retail clothing store, told his family he was heading to Syria as part of an aid convoy only to reemerge weeks later as a fighter alongside the ISIL. Both men are believed to still be fighting in Syria.
In contrast, Mashudur Choudhury, who recently became the first Briton to be convicted of terrorism charges related to the conflict in Syria, was arrested upon his return to the United Kingdom on October 26, 2013. He had left for Syria on October 8 with four other Portsmouth men on a commercial flight to Turkey (including Muhammad Hamidur Rahman and Muhammad Hassan) after long conversations via various social media and online communication methods, including Skype, with Iftekar Jaman. In one of these messages, Choudhury suggested that the group he was traveling with should call themselves the “Britani brigade Bangladeshi bad boys,” which elicited a “lol sounds long” from Jaman. Choudhury was also revealed to have argued about his activity with his wife who saw him as a fantasist and who finally told him in a July text message to “go die in battlefield. Go die, I really mean it just go. I’ll be relieved. At last. At last.'"The presence in Syria of jihadists from Portsmouth was reported late last year here and here and here.
It is seemingly no coincidence that the EDL consequently musters strong in Portsmouth, a city which at first glance would not seem to constitute a fertile breeding ground for that organisation.
Moreover, Pompey's local paper now reports:
'The leader of the city council has moved to reassure people after it emerged a jihadi from Portsmouth posted he would go on a ‘killing spree’ if he returned from Syria.
The comments from Councillor Donna Jones come after a man fighting with Al-Qaeda linked group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant in Syria wrote a message on Twitter.
The man, using the name Abu Abdullah, seemed to threaten to kill non-Muslims.
He wrote: ‘Yeah mate, go back to Britain. You got to be joking. I’ll probably end up going on a killing spree with all the kuffar around me.’
Speaking to The News Cllr Jones said: ‘The Muslim community here in Portsmouth are very upset what’s happened with these young men going over to Syria.
‘We must remember it’s a very small number, when we take into consideration the other British men who have gone. It’s concerning when any British citizen behaves in such a way.’
As reported, a group of men from the city left for war-torn Syria via Turkey to fight with the Islamist rebel group ISIS.
Just yesterday the Home Office banned ISIS, with Immigration and Security Minister James Brokenshire saying the move sends a ‘strong message’ that terrorism is not tolerated.
In a statement he said: ‘We condemn all acts of terrorism committed in Syria, where the conflict poses a growing threat to UK, regional and international peace and security.
‘Proscription is a useful weapon in the armoury at the disposal of the Government, police and security service to disrupt terrorist activity and protect the UK.’
It comes as it emerged 19-year-old, of Portsmouth, Muhammad Hassan also posted a message indicating his support for violence against non-Muslims outside of Syria.
He wrote on Twitter: ‘America wants to drone Dawlah? Inshallah, you will receive many more 9/11s.’
Both Hassan and Abu Abdullah were removed from Twitter over the weekend....'Read the rest here