Before he became a British jihadist featured in a recent ISIS murder video, the masked man—believed to be a former Arsenal fan named Siddhartha Dhar—worked in a slightly less deadly industry: Bouncy castle sales.
Dhar was apparently identified by his former friends and family after ISIS released video of a masked man killing prisoners accused of spying for the west. Though the militant has not been formally identified, Dhar’s sister reportedly confirmed to reporters that the “man in the video sounded just like her brother.”
British newspapers said he used to sell children’s inflatable bouncers, known as bouncy castles in Britain, and was a fan of Arsenal soccer club and the rock group Nirvana.
“The last time I saw him it was about two months before he left and joined so-called Islamic State and we were laughing. It was very good natured,” Leech told BBC radio.
“To remember him like that and then see him supposedly in this video, I don’t understand that,” he said, adding that Dhar must have had some very significant experiences in Syria with Islamic State to make him capable of doing what he did.
Still, there’s some evidence Dhar—who reportedly fled the UK after he was arrested on charges of belonging to a banned group and encouraging terrorism—had already been radicalized.
“I’ve grown up in the West, I’ve lived in the United Kingdom all my life, I’ve seen what a democracy has to offer and quite frankly it’s quite oppressive,” Dhar reportedly explained in a YouTube video titled “The beauty of the Shariah and the Caliphate.”