Issam Abuanza (37) is the first ever doctor to join the ISIS. He fled UK in 2014 by allegedly leaving his wife and two children behind in Sheffield. A practicing doctor with the NHS (UK) for seven years, he received his licence to practice medicine in the UK in 2009, according to a British tabloid.
Abuanza posted shocking images on social media wearing an army uniform and clutching an AK-47 while reading the Koran. Another photograph shows him wearing doctors’ scrubs with a gun in a holster slung over one shoulder.
When his sister Najla was asked about the kind of person he was, she said, ‘He used to be quite the dashing young man, very modern. I’ve no idea how he became like this or who showed him the path to terror. They will never forgive him. My dad’s wish was to see him before he dies. He has spent all his money on him and his education and this is what he does.’
Abuanza is said to have filled his ISIS registration forms when he crossed into Syria to join them on July 26 2014.
According to the leaked recruitment ISIS papers, he said he had specialized in endocrinology- treating hormone related diseases. Abuanza was very active on social media, frequently writing messages in support of ISIS and attempting to recruit other British medics until October 2015.
Celebrating the Charlie Hebdo terror attack in Paris, in which 12 members of staff from the satirical magazine were murdered, he wrote a Facebook post which read ‘Praise be to God for this terrorist act,’ he wrote. ‘God kill off their enemies, military and civilian, men and women, adult and children.’ ‘I would’ve liked for them to burn him extremely slowly and I could treat him so we could torch him once more,’ he wrote about the death of the captured Jordanian pilot who was murdered by ISIS fighters.
Social media found him celebrating even more when 11 British medical students left their studies and joined ISIS on March 2015. ‘Just two days ago I was the only doctor in the ambulance, and I was very shocked and sad, then suddenly 11 Sudanese doctors entered the territory. You don’t know how happy I was with them’ he wrote. In another post from November 2014, he said ‘We need doctors in Syria, in all specialties. Mainly vascular surgery, thoracic surgery and anesthesia.’
The current whereabouts of Abuanza are unknown as he has not published anything on social media since October 2015 when he was living in Deir Ezzour province in eastern Syria. A man claiming to be a doctor, with a strong British accent and calling himself Abu Amir al-Muhajir, spoke in a propaganda video released by ISIS in June 2015 calling for British medics to join him in Syria.
Abuazana is believed to have been one of the British medical students who abandoned their studies in Sudan to join ISIS. He declared at the beginning of the video that he was appearing ‘on behalf of the doctors and medical council here in wilayat al-Kheir [Deir Ezzor province] in the Islamic State’.
Being proud of the medical services being provided in the state, the doctor gives a speech urging Muslims with skills in medicine to join ISIS. Appealing to the Muslims in England, he calls the Islamic State as ‘a great cause being fought here’.
-by Vrushali Mahajan
Vrushali is pursuing her graduation in Journalism and is an intern at NewsGram.
Twitter handle: Vrushali Mahajan