BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:50 A.M.) – On Tuesday, the Sky News Agency released an exclusive interview with three suspected Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh) members that are currently being held in a prison belonging to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria.
Among the three interviewed by Sky News was Mohammed Anwar Miah, 40, who is a qualified pharmacist from Birmingham.
Miah told Sky News that he first traveled to Syria in 2014 after he struck off by the General Pharmaceutical Council for inventing false employees at the pharmacy where he worked.
The suspected ISIS member said once he arrived in Syria, he began working at a hospital in the ISIS-occupied areas of northern Syria.
“I was not supporting IS in any way,” he told Sky News.
“Had I been there or not been there I would not have benefited them. The people who benefited from me were the local civilians, just the local people.”
When asked if he had seen any news in the three-and-a-half years he was in IS territory, which catalogued the executions, amputations and floggings that the terror group carried out, he said: “Very, very little. Very, very little.
“When I first got there, the internet was always very weak and then they went through a period where they said the internet is not allowed. And then they said TV is not allowed too.
“They removed everybody’s dishes and they put them in one place and it was forbidden to have a TV in your house.”
Since living in Syria, he has married a Syrian woman who he now has a child with.
When asked about leaving, Miah said that “it’s very difficult to leave. It’s very dangerous to leave.
“Even when I left, I handed myself in, I wasn’t captured. I left in August 2018 and me, my wife and my child, we had to literally escape without telling anybody.”
As soon as coalition forces saw him, he was segregated, separated from his wife and arrested as an IS suspect.
But he insists he is a moderate British Muslim – that is how he describes himself.
He said: “I can say to everybody in Britain that I’m not an IS fighter. I’m not a dangerous person. I came here to do humanitarian work. I have hurt nobody. I have done nothing wrong. I worked in a hospital.
“People have labelled me with IS because the area was controlled by IS. But I just did my job working in a hospital. I’m not a danger to anybody. I did humanitarian work and if they want evidence, I mean the evidence is there.”
Miah is hoping the UK will intervene and help bring him and his family home, as he claims he did nothing wrong.
Another British medic was interviewed by the Sky News Agency recently and asked about his experiences in Syria.
The other medic – who appeared to have been brought to the interview separately – is Muhammad Saqib Raza.
The Pakistan-born doctor said he moved to England in 2008 and gained gained British citizenship under the highly skilled migrants programme, worked for eight years in the NHS.
He travelled up and down England doing locum work in more than 20 NHS hospitals.
He said he was duped into crossing into Syria after being told he could help Muslims and gain valuable work experience with treating war injuries in the Turkish-Syrian border town of Jarabulus.
Instead, he ended up being taken under armed guard to Raqqa, being sold to IS, and spending more than a year in and out of first IS prisons, then coalition jails.
He is growing ever more desperate, and asked: “Why am I still sitting in prison? Why am I not being given any justice?
“Is there no justice? Britain is one of the strongest countries in the world. And why has my country abandoned me when I needed it the most?”
The third and final man interviewed by Sky News is a naturalized Irishman, originally from Belarus.
Alexander Bekmirzaev, 45, spent more than 20 years living in Ireland and was granted an Irish passport.
He left for Syria in September 2013, intending to stay for just a few months, but the following January he urged his wife to join him and bring their nine-month-old boy along too.
He told Sky News: “I’m not a terrorist. I’m an ordinary person. I hope I’m a good husband and a good father, you know.
“Well many people said, ‘How can you bring your family to a war zone?’ I made the biggest mistake of my life and I’ve paid my price. I’ve paid the price.”
The former security guard is now imploring the Irish authorities to take him back. He insists he did not fight.
He said: “I refused to fight. And at the end, if you did not fight, you did not eat. I did not fight so I did not eat.