A United States drone strike has killed a British mother known as the White Widow and her son in Syria, The Sun reported yesterday.
A British government source from Whitehall revealed to the tabloid newspaper The Sun that a US drone strike targeted Sally Jones, a 48-year-old female recruiter for the Daesh group in Syria. The drone strike was executed in June, but was not made public due to fears that her 12-year-old son was targeted in the strike.
A US drone pilot controlled the unmanned drone from a military base in the US and the drone was remotely launched from Syria. The drone tracked Jones for several hours before the strike was executed. The US Central Intelligence Agency and British spy agency MI5 worked for months to locate Jones.
Jones, from Kent, south east England, travelled to Syria with her son Jojo in 2013 to join the Daesh group. Jones married British national Junaid Hussain, a 21-year-old hacker for the Daesh group who was killed in a US drone strike in 2015.
Jones was nicknamed the White Widow by the international media after her husband was killed. Her activities in Syria led her to be considered a “high value target” for the US.
There is no way of knowing whether the US drone targeted Jones, or the civilians who were also killed in the strike.
In 2015 a British drone targeted two British nationals, Reyaad Khan and Ruhul Amin, which received heavy criticism over the legality of the strike. Rights Watch UK, a British human rights organisation working for a just and accountable security, requested the disclosure of the legal basis for targeting British citizens abroad. The UK government refused to disclose the legal advice they had sought.
Top secret documents attained by the American news website, The Intercept, revealed that Menwith Hill Station, based in North Yorkshire in England, is being used to track and pass on intelligence information to the United States for drone strikes. Complicity in US drone strikes has raised questions over unlawful killings.
Syria has been embroiled in a deadly war since 2011 when President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces cracked down on pro-democracy protests. Since then more than 250,000 people have been killed and in excess of ten million displaced, according to the UN.
Armed groups, including Daesh and Al-Qaeda affiliated forces are operating to topple President Bashar Al-Assad.