Dawda Jallow left the Gambia for Morocco and his family had not heard from him since. They have been looking for him for years and had put out a notice for help finding him. They got some information that he had traveled to Libya.
Although his family feared he had died in the ‘backway,’ a perilous route used by Gambian youths to illegally migrate into Europe by crossing the Mediterranean, they were holding on to hope that he was still alive.
Well, they do not have to look any longer after a video of Dawda threatening Western countries in an ISIS video emerged and has reported died fighting for the extremist group.
Dawda has changed his name to Abdou ‘Umar Al-Muhajir and his friends and family confirmed it was him in the video. They are left devastated by the news but do not know if he is still alive or has died in the fighting.
Dawda “Abu ‘Umar al-Muhajir” Jallow was born to a Sunni Muslim family in Gambia, and he was a member of the Islamic State’s Wilayat Tarabulus branch in western Libya. On 27 March 2016, he appeared in a video praising the 2016 Brussels bombings.
He grew up in Bundung, a township that is 10 miles southwest of the Gambia’s island capital, Banjul. Jallow was an intelligent student, says his former schoolmates and great at mathematics.
“Dawda was not only a great mathematics; he was also my friend and little brother,” said Ahmad Giiteh, a former student leader.
“I personally handpicked him to serve in the student welfare association. He was such a wonderful and lively person. Very funny and polite. I can’t believe this.”
Dawda Jallow was a honors student at an Ahmadi funded school, Nusrat in Bundung, graduated with a degree in Economics from the University of The Gambia and tried being a rapper before devoting himself to joining a group of Islamist in the small West African nation called “Markass.”
The members of the Markass group are often seen walking around town and preaching to the people to follow the ‘sunnah’ [teachings and deeds of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad]; but Dawda Jallow was not just a teacher of deeds of the Prophet of Islam, he was once a lecturer at the Gambia’s Managment Development Institute.
The Markass have been accused of harassing people, mostly young women, who are not dressed in an Islamic way. They were threatened with expulsion by Gambia’s former government.
How Jallow was recruited so far remains a mystery. ISIS, known as the Islamic State group has been using social media to recruit young people with the idea of dying for Allah, which is an especially more alluring fantasy for young people like Jallow.
Dr. John Horgan, a forensic psychologist, and expert in analyzing terrorist behavior at Georgia State University in Atlanta told Vogue that ISIS recruiters have become increasingly savvy social media users.
“After being bombarded with the, ‘What are you going to do when you grow up?’ question, the prospect of doing God’s work is very appealing, especially if the benefits presented are eternal ones — like how ISIS promises a paradise for its soldiers who become martyrs,” he added.
Dawda Jallow was eulogizing Brussels and Paris attackers in an ISIS video and praying to “Allah to grant them a home in Jannah [heaven]” while threatening Western nations. The video shocked people across Gambia, a nation known for its religious harmony and tolerance.
“Those that do not want Allah’s laws to be implemented on the surface of the earth should know that we have soldiers everywhere. As long as you continue to drop your bombs, Insa’Allah [by the grace of God] we will continue to slaughter you on your streets. We will continue to slaughter you as well,” he warned.
Dawda “Abdou ‘Umar Al-Muhajir” Jallow calls ISIS attacks “a revenge,” promising more attacks on European capitals. The Gambian jihadist says there is no cure for the Islamic state group. He calls their attacks “wonders” that they have been doing.
Since 2014, ISIS has been carrying out deadly attacks in Libya. They carried out attacks against oil installations and international hotels, performed mass executions and attempted to take over further Libyan territory.
Libya’s intelligence chief, Mohamed Muftah Nuh said in early February 2016 that the Islamic State is recruiting fighters from Africa’s poorest nations, including Chad, Mali and Sudan.
ISIS offers generous salaries compared to the average wages in the region. Many of the fighters reach Libya using existing people-smuggling routes used by African migrants heading to Europe.