Mohammed Shamsuddin is a pro-ISIS extremist propagandist and former member of Anjem Choudary’s now-defunct al-Muhajiroun terrorist network. According to the 2016 British television documentary “The Jihadis Next Door,” Shamsuddin replaced Abu Rumaysah, the network’s former senior spokesman, who traveled to Syria in late 2014.The Jihadis Next Door. Directed by Jamie Roberts. United Kingdom: Channel 4, 2016. The documentary’s director, Jamie Roberts, identified Shamsuddin as the “most senior member” of the extremist network, which has included such figures as extremist propagandist Abu Haleema and June 2017 London Bridge attacker Khuram Shazad Butt.The Jihadis Next Door. Directed by Jamie Roberts. United Kingdom: Channel 4, 2016. Shamsuddin is also an associate of Omar Bakri Muhammad, the extremist preacher who initially created the al-Muhajiroun network and is incarcerated in Lebanon on terrorism-related charges.“London Bridge attacker was known member of extremist network,” Financial Times (London), June 5, 2017, https://www.ft.com/content/9e1cd794-4a0a-11e7-919a-1e14ce4af89b.
Shamsuddin has propagated incendiary, divisive, and extremist messaging both amongst members of his group and when speaking publicly. Speaking to a crowd of people in July 2015, Shamsuddin said, “My dear Muslim brothers, there’s a war taking place… the sharia [Islamic law] is coming to the UK. This black flag you see here, one day, is going to be on 10 Downing Street.”The Jihadis Next Door. Directed by Jamie Roberts. United Kingdom: Channel 4, 2016. He also said, “We’re going to arrest [former Prime Minister] David Cameron. We’re going to arrest [former parliamentarian] George Osborne. We’re going to arrest every single member of the Conservative Party and put him on trial for the crimes against Muslims.”The Jihadis Next Door. Directed by Jamie Roberts. United Kingdom: Channel 4, 2016.
Despite advocating sharia in the United Kingdom and fiercely criticizing British foreign policy, the divorced father-of-five has a keen understanding of how to take advantage of the freedoms and benefits afforded to British citizens. In spite of Shamsuddin’s fiery rhetoric, he has managed to avoid imprisonment and has lived on state welfare benefits since he was 18 years old.Tom Kelly and Inderdeep Bains, “Bridge terrorist’s links to two extremist preachers: Jihadi was filmed at extremist events alongside cleric who hailed his support for ISIS,” Daily Mail (London), June 4, 2017, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4571814/Bridge-terrorist-s-links-two-extremist-preachers.html#ixzz4kSNCFV6k. According to documentarian Jamie Roberts, who made “The Jihadis Next Door” for Britain’s Channel 4 in 2016, Shamsuddin was also very careful when asked about ISIS. As Shamsuddin says in the film: “You can get 10 years [in prison] just for saying something which is reckless or careless… even though you didn’t possibly mean it like that, you know what I mean? You could have possibly meant it innocently, but because that innocent word could land you in prison [for] ten years.”The Jihadis Next Door. Directed by Jamie Roberts. United Kingdom: Channel 4, 2016. At one point during the film, Roberts showed Shamsuddin and Haleema ISIS execution videos and the two laughed, with Haleema complimenting ISIS’s high-quality filming style.The Jihadis Next Door. Directed by Jamie Roberts. United Kingdom: Channel 4, 2016.
At another point during the documentary, the group was stopped and searched by a British policeman who said he was alerted by the public that the men were carrying an ISIS flag. Shamsuddin loudly protested against the search, repeatedly asking “search for what?” and “what offense has he made?” and “why?” Shamsuddin also repeatedly yelled at the policeman: “you’re lying” and “you’re a liar.” At one point, Shamsuddin asked, “what section of the terrorism act… glorification? Instigation? Preparation? We’re not stupid. We know the law.”The Jihadis Next Door. Directed by Jamie Roberts. United Kingdom: Channel 4, 2016.
When asked how many people Shamsuddin knows “who have gone [to join ISIS in Syria],” he replied, “I know a fair amount, yeah. I know a fair amount.” Shamsuddin has also mocked U.K. counterterrorism officials, calling the person who dropped charges against him, “the moron of counterterrorism command.”The Jihadis Next Door. Directed by Jamie Roberts. United Kingdom: Channel 4, 2016. In August 2015, when members of his extremist cell were required to appear at a court hearing, Shamsuddin spoke to the press. He said, “My message to the Muslim community in the UK is this: this is a war against Islam and Muslims. The dawa [proselytization] must continue, the struggle must continue, the call must continue, and one day Islam will be dominant and the black flag of Islam will be over Downing Street.”The Jihadis Next Door. Directed by Jamie Roberts. United Kingdom: Channel 4, 2016. That same month Shamsuddin was once again arrested and released during counter-terrorism raids.“Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane, and Youssef Zaghba named: Everything we know about the London Bridge terrorists,” Telegraph (London), June 6, 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/05/ringleader-london-bridge-terror-attack-named-khuram-butt/.
Shamsuddin’s radicalization process reportedly began while he was at university, where he served as head of Southampton Solent University’s Islamic Society before dropping out.“London terrorist Khuram Butt appeared in TV documentary The Jihadis Next Door and ‘tried to go to Syria,” Telegraph (London), June 5, 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/05/london-terrorist-appeared-channel-4-jihadi-documentary-tried/; The Jihadis Next Door. Directed by Jamie Roberts. United Kingdom: Channel 4, 2016. It was there that Shamsuddin met Bakri Muhammad, whom Shamsuddin described as a “close figure in my life…he is the person that had the most effect on my life, no doubt about it, in terms of molding my views.”The Jihadis Next Door. Directed by Jamie Roberts. United Kingdom: Channel 4, 2016. According to the Channel 4 documentary, Shamsuddin is divorced with five children and has suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome since he was 8 years old and lives on government benefits.The Jihadis Next Door. Directed by Jamie Roberts. United Kingdom: Channel 4, 2016.
Shamsuddin first gained media attention during the 2010 sentencing of Roshonara Choudhry, a London University student convicted of stabbing Stephen Timms, a member of parliament for East Ham. When the jury sentenced Choudhry to life in prison in November 2010, Shamsuddin and two fellow protestors berated one juror wearing a hijab, screaming, “Shame on you, sister.”Sue Reid, “Special Report: The ‘DIY Jihadists’ Paid for by us… Roshanara Choudhry supporters are living on benefits,” Daily Mail (London), November 5, 2010, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1326844/DIY-jihadists-Roshonara-Choudhry-supporters-living-benefits.html. After the judge expelled the trio from the courtroom, they continued their protest outside, waving banners asserting that “Islam will dominate the world” and calling for the murder of British soldiers and Timms.Sue Reid, “Special Report: The ‘DIY Jihadists’ Paid for by us… Roshanara Choudhry supporters are living on benefits,” Daily Mail (London), November 5, 2010, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1326844/DIY-jihadists-Roshonara-Choudhry-supporters-living-benefits.html.
In September 2014, Shamsuddin and other members of al-Muhajiroun were arrested in a counterterrorism raid. Although Shamsuddin was released without charge, his arrest alongside Choudary, Rumaysah, and Haleema spoke to his central role within the al-Muhajiroun network and Britain’s extremist Islamist milieu. Choudary himself initially recruited Shamsuddin into al-Muhajiroun.Ceylan Yeginsu, “One of U.K.’s Most Prolific Extremist Cells Is Regrouping,” New York Times, May 18, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/18/world/europe/uk-extremist-cell-anjem-choudary.html. Rumaysah, a.k.a. Siddartha Dhar, immigrated to Syria to join ISIS in later that month while out on bail, published a “travel guide” for aspiring foreign fighters, and was suspected of being the masked jihadist responsible for executing an alleged British spy in a January 2016 ISIS propaganda video.“Britain denounces Islamic State video showing ‘spies’ shot,” Reuters, January 4, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-video-idUSKBN0UI0QD20160104. He reportedly died in 2017.Tom Well, “‘JIHADI SID’ KILLED ‘Jihadi Sid’, the British former bouncy castle salesman turned ISIS fiend, is believed to have been killed in drone strike, officials say,” Sun (London), October 19, 2018, https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/7538880/jihadi-sid-killed-drone-strike/. Haleema is an alleged ISIS supporter who has used YouTube and social media as platforms to disseminate lectures and mobilize ISIS sympathizers in Australia and the United Kingdom.
Although Shamsuddin has not been charged for supporting the London Bridge attacks, his relationship with Khuram Butt and role in al-Muhajiroun are well-documented. Indeed, Shamsuddin functioned as a de-facto leader of the formally defunct al-Muhajiroun group following Omar Bakri’s detention in Lebanon and Choudary’s imprisonment for terrorism offenses in the United Kingdom.Sarah Knapton, Martin Evans, Nicola Harley, Harry Yorke, Pen Farmer, and Robert Mendick, “Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane, and Youssef Zaghba named: Everything we know about the London Bridge terrorists,” Telegraph (London), June 6, 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/05/ringleader-london-bridge-terror-attack-named-khuram-butt/. As a leading figure within the extremist network, Shamsuddin has implied support for the so-called Islamic State, called for a caliphate in the United Kingdom, and promised that Islam would dominate the world.Tom Kelly and Hugo Gye, “Sickening moment two henchmen of ISIS executioner ‘Jihadi Sid’ giggled as they watched beheading video while eating meal in London restaurant,” Daily Mail (London), January 19, 2016, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3406053/ISIS-militant-nicknamed-Jihadi-Sid-warned-black-flag-fly-Downing-Street.html.
The U.K. government banned al-Muhajiroun in 2006 over the group’s links to terrorism and later banned the group’s aliases.“Proscribed Terrorist Organizations,” U.K. Home Office, accessed July 31, 2019, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/538297/20160715-Proscription-website-update.pdf. British authorities released Choudary from prison on parole in October 2018, halfway through his sentence. Since then, British sources report that elements of al-Muhajiroun have sought to reorganize. Shamsuddin told the New York Times in May 2019 that the al-Muhajiroun members arrested in the 2000s are all now free or about to go free. He said that the police are now stretched too thin and the British government is too preoccupied with Brexit to focus on a regrouping al-Muhajiroun.Ceylan Yeginsu, “One of U.K.’s Most Prolific Extremist Cells Is Regrouping,” New York Times, May 18, 2019, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/18/world/europe/uk-extremist-cell-anjem-choudary.html.