Tales from the City: Social

During our studies in social psychology, we will come across a number of concepts, theories and studies which may help us as we try to understand stories like the one below about a young man, who was just five years older than our Year 13s, when he went to fight in Syria and was killed. As we progress through the topic see whether you can relate what you are learning to understanding stories like this one. If you are interested in the social psychology of terrorism I have copied some links below.

The following text is from The Daily Mail newspaper dated 10.08.14

Hamidur at a wedding.jpg
Hamidur at a wedding.jpg

British jihadi who went to fight for ISIS after he was sacked from Primark is killed in Syria

  • Muhammad Hamidur Rahman one of around 500 Britons who went to Syria
  • He joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham which in now the Islamic State
  • Rahman, from Portsmouth, was shot dead in a gun fight a fortnight ago
  • His father said family received text message from a friend of Rahman in Syria
  • Rahman is the second British jihadist from Portsmouth to die in Syria
  • The first was his friend Iftekhar Jaman, 23, who died in December

A former supervisor at Primark who became a terrorist fighting for the world’s most feared terrorist group has been killed in Syria. Muhammad Hamidur Rahman, 25, was one of an estimated 500 Britons who went to Syria to fight for the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS). The group has renamed itself Islamic State (IS), and now controls vast swathes of Syria and Iraq, which it has declared as the world’s newest Islamic caliphate. This weekend, the U.S. bombed key IS targets in northern Iraq as the group threatened to wipe out a secretive sect known as the Yazidis, accusing them of being devil worshippers.

Rahman, from Portsmouth, was shot dead in a gun fight a fortnight ago, a day before the Muslim festival if Eid, said his family. His father, Abdul Hannan, 52, an Indian restaurant worker, said the family received a text message from a friend of Rahman in Syria who informed them that their son was dead. The latest killing brings the death toll of British jihadists in Syria to 19, according to terrorism experts at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) at King’s College, London, which monitors the war in Syria.

Rahman is the second British jihadist from Portsmouth to die in Syria. The first was his friend Iftekhar Jaman, 23, who died in December. Rahman’s father, Mr Hannan, said that Jaman went to Syria first at the beginning of last year, and then took his son there by contacting him through social media. He said that Rahman did not tell any member of his family that he was going to Syria, but suddenly disappeared from Portsmouth. Days later, they received a call from him saying he was in Syria. Mr Hannan said: ‘He asked us to pray for him, and said he wanted to become a shaheed (martyr) for the sake of Allah.’ It is not known where in Syria Rahman died. But Shiraz Maher, a terrorism expert at the ICSR, said he spoke to Rahman on social media a month ago, when he said he was in the northern Syria city of Deir Zour, which is a stronghold for IS.  Maher said: ‘From speaking to him, I got the sense that he was a man who wanted to become a martyr. He was a man of conviction.’

Rahman was working at his local Primark store, but was dismissed a month before he went to Syria last October. Rahman flew to Turkey with five other friends, and then crossed the border by land into Syria.  In May, Mashudur Choudhury, 31, who accompanied Rahman, but returned to the UK, became the first person in the UK to be convicted of taking part in terrorist activity in Syria. He was arrested in October at Gatwick airport by anti-terrorist police, as he flew back from Turkey. It emerged that Choudhury found the training in Syria too difficult and became scared of the fighting.  Choudhury will be sentenced on September 19 at Kingston Crown Court.

Further reading on the psychology of terrorism

“Martyrdom” by Cole and Cole






As well as ths stories relating to the Portsmouth Jihadists it is also easy to find stories about Community leaders coming together to combat radicalisation.

You may also be interested to explore local stories about clashes between groups such as The EDL and UAF (the English Defence League and United Against Fascism).

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© Amanda J Wood, 2016-2017