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In May 2013, telling his parents he was going to learn Arabic and maybe help Syrian refugees, he booked a one-way ticket to Turkey and caught a bus to Reyhanli on Turkey’s southern border with Syria. Ifthekar had no idea how to cross the frontier. But, as he told Shiraz Maher, a researcher at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London, on the bus to Reyhanli Ifthekar spotted a man with a beard, offered him use of his bottle of alcohol-free perfume and introduced himself.

To the back and sides it fell in long, thick loops, tumbling onto the upturned collar of a docker’s jacket where it executed a final exuberant ski-jump. The front was more delicate: single, thin strands spilling like poured water down over his forehead, past his black eyes, his noble nose and full mouth, extending to his black beard. Ifthekar Jaman looked like a musketeer. Like Che Guevara. And that was no accident. Staring directly ahead, Ifthekar examined his image, then ran his fingers through one side of his hair before turning to the other and smoothing it.

He travelled back to Turkey and caught his return flight to Gatwick, where he was arrested by counter-terrorism officers who had been following his travels online. In May he was convicted of terrorism offences and in December sentenced to four years. At least one of the British jihadis was now exposed as a spectacular fantasist. The others appeared undeterred, however, embracing their new identities with new jihadi names and posting messages online saying war was awesome, and just like the movies.

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