My ISIS cousin died in an American air strike

‘I’m glad he didn’t come back’

Some cousins are funny, some are annoying and some are just rarely seen. Philosophy third year Roman Romeo’s ISIS fighter cousin, Peshawa Rahman, died in an American air strike last month.

News articles last month told of how the area of Gwer – currently an American airstrike target – is overrun by terrorists and a huge warzone in Kurdistan.

Romeo’s family didn’t think anything of the news, until they learned of Peshawa’s death through his wife.

An Islamic State website published his name as a war hero and Roman was told through Facebook by another cousin.

Roman and his brother

Roman and his brother live in Britain and hadn’t spoken to their cousin in years

Disappearing in October 2014, Peshawa always had a radical mindset growing up.

When asked if he ever thought his cousin would grow up to become a terrorist, Roman said: “Thing is, I left Kurdistan for the UK in 2004. Peshawa joined another terrorist organisation just before that time around 2003.

“It took a few years for him to radicalise – certain Mosques have Imams that radicalise kids and teenagers. People think that terrorists, before they’re in the organisation, that they’re weirdos. But they’re actually normal people most of the time.

“He was very normal like this, he was very shy and modest too.”

roman2

Roman

As expected, no remains of the body have been returned to Roman’s family, who are originally from Sulaymaniyah. No funeral is planned because they feel ashamed of Peshawa, who died aged 25.

After speaking to his other cousins, Roman says they are all happy about the news.

Leeds may seem like a far cry from the world of warzones in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Kurdistan. But Roman can see parallels in the UK.

He says: “People are being radicalised, its like a time bomb. They’re grown to be terrorists and when there’s an opportunity to go do something they go.

“I mean my cousin joined, he’s got a family, a wife, a son, shit loads of money. He didn’t do it because his life sucked or because he was being discriminated against. People loved him, he had opportunities and a lot of people in his life.”

ISIS

Other ISIS fighters (not Peshawar)

The 20-year-old adds: “He thinks there is a different set of moralities for this world and the next. He thought if you kill a Muslim its okay because they’re going to go to Heaven anyway. But if you kill an infidel then you’ll go to Heaven and they’ll go to Hell in the next life.

“He wasn’t very smart, he was quite dumb – he was also surrounded by terrorist friends. It’s the way that a lot of suicide bombers think, its one of the ways they interpret the Quran.”

isisman

The death has caused controversy in the family. Peshawa’s father is an important figure in Kurdistan.

When asked if the whole family was sad, Roman said: “No, hell no. An issue was that his dad ignored him a lot. He’s a high political figure in Kurdistan. In a way he’s glad he didn’t come back because it’d be bad for him.

“Imagine you’re an MP in Britain and your kid is in Al Qaeda – its a big failure on his part.

“He’s not talking about it or mentioning it – he’s acting like it didn’t happen. Obviously he has to look after his career. Only close family know about it to be honest.

“It’s not like he’s going to go around saying ‘Hi, I lost my son to ISIS’. And he’s not much of a family man anyway.”

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