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    Aug 26, 2014

    Did British rapper behead James Foley?


    HE MADE his name as a rapper, even enjoying considerable success with singles played on BBC Radio and much-watched videos on YouTube.

    But now, the Londoner known as "L Jinny" or "Lyricist Jinn" has gained worldwide notoriety - as one of the prime suspects behind the beheading of American journalist James Foley.

    Speculation among terrorism experts and the British news media has focused on a number of militants known to have joined Islamic State (IS), including the 24-year-old Londoner named Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary.

    Bary's father, Adel Abdel Bary, was believed to be one of Osama bin Laden's closest lieutenants, said The Independent. Bary Sr was extradited to the United States from Britain in 2012 after a long legal battle to face terrorism charges for Al-Qaeda's bombings of two US embassies in East Africa in 1998.

    Raffaello Pantucci, director of international security studies at the Royal United Services Institute and author of a coming book about Muslim extremists in Britain, noted that that some of Bary's raps have referred to his father's prosecution.

    The rapper left his family's £1 million (S$2 million) home in the western London suburb of Maida Vale last year - which he shared with his Egypt-born mother and five siblings - to travel to Syria, where he joined IS.

    That home was raided by the British authorities two months ago. The move, said the Daily Mail, resulted in Bary launching an angry rant on Twitter, saying: "These kuffar mi5 have removed ma mum and fam from house and raided mum's house."

    In Syria, IS captured an airbase from Syrian government forces on Sunday after days of fighting that cost more than 500 lives, a monitoring group said.

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 346 IS fighters were killed and more than 170 members of government forces had died since last Tuesday in the fight over Tabqa base.

    With the capture of the airbase, Raqqa has become the first province fully outside President Bashar Al-Assad's control, further cementing the IS' hold inside its self-declared caliphate and allowing it to focus on neighbouring Aleppo province.

    Also on Sunday, the same day that residents of Rochester, New Hampshire, came together to honour one of the city's sons, Mr Foley, another US hostage in Syria won his freedom.

    Freelance journalist Peter Theo Curtis, 45, was held in Syria for almost two years by the Jabhat Al-Nusrah group, an offshoot of Al-Qaeda, until he was released into the custody of the United Nations under circumstances that have yet to be fully explained.

    "After a week marked by unspeakable tragedy, we are all relieved and grateful knowing that Mr Theo Curtis is coming home," US Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement.