Our Firearms Expert helps tie pistol clues from London father of four to Jihadi John - Sunday Times Article01 Feb 2015
Written by: Dipesh Gadher and Mark Hookham Published: 1 February 2015
Nero Saraiva tweeted this picture of himself in Syria, intended for his young son in London
A FATHER of four from east London is suspected by western security services of being a right-hand man to the British member of Isis known as Jihadi John.
Nero Saraiva, 28, travelled to Syria more than two years ago and is now thought to be one of the most senior jihadists from Britain in the terrorist group’s ranks.
He appears to have access to a large personal armoury, including firearms similar to those used by Jihadi John, and stands accused of discussing the supply of weapons to an al-Qaeda-linked group in east Africa.
The former engineering student, who moved to Britain from Portugal more than a decade ago, also seems to be privy to advance information about the beheading of hostages by Isis.
Saraiva was raised as a Catholic before converting to Islam in the UK and has relied on a Christian preacher in London to keep in touch with one of his young children.
Yesterday it was reported in Portugal that at least 10 British nationals may have been radicalised and recruited by Saraiva and his east London Isis cell and sent to Syria via a network of safehouses in Lisbon.
A joint investigation by The Sunday Times and Expresso, a Lisbon-based newspaper, has discovered that Scotland Yard recently contacted one of Saraiva’s brothers in Portugal about his activities.
It is understood that officers questioned the brother about a comment Saraiva posted on Twitter last July, which suggested he knew that an American hostage was likely to be murdered.
Saraiva’s tweet — written 39 days before the beheading of the journalist James Foley by Jihadi John — stated: “Message to America, the Islamic State is making a new movie. Thank u for the actors.”
Isis, also known as Islamic State, announced Foley’s death in a YouTube film called A Message to America.
This weekend it emerged that hours before Saraiva posted his prescient tweet, he sent a cryptic warning to The Guardian’s website. Signing on to the site with his real name, Saraiva responded to an article about Iraq with the comment: “America [h]as run out of options. Anyway, the Islamic State will sort them out, don’t worry.”
The postings have led intelligence officials to conclude that Saraiva and up to four other Portuguese immigrant jihadists from east London may be involved in the production and distribution of Isis videos showing the beheadings of western hostages in Syria.
“He has an important position, influential inside the organisation, and is not just a foot soldier who went to fight and die in Syria,” said one security source.
Saraiva’s Twitter account features images of his weapons arsenal, including a Glock 19 pistol with an extended magazine, allowing him to fire 33 rounds. A similar gun — with the extended magazine — is also carried by Jihadi John.
A former Isis hostage — one of the few westerners to be freed alive — believes he saw Saraiva at a police and judicial building used by the terrorist group in the northern Syrian town of Manbij last summer.
Ahmad Walid Rashidi, a Danish charity worker who was captured while trying to rescue twin jihadist sisters from Manchester, said: “He had a gun at the office.”
Saraiva’s name has also appeared in a trial in Tanzania involving an alleged terrorist plot by al-Shabaab, the east African affiliate of al-Qaeda. The plotters are alleged to have been in contact with Saraiva, seeking “material and financial” assistance...