Mother of Briton ‘killed fighting for al-Shabaab’ felt let down by authorities

Thomas Evans converted to Islam and joined Islamist group al-Shabaab, killing innocent people. It has now emerged that the 25-year-old rose through the ranks to become the second-in-command of his unit in Kenya Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Mother of Thomas Evans, who joined Somali jihadi group in 2011, asked MPs in February how her son could fly to Egypt after previously being stopped by police.

A British extremist who converted to Islam two years before he fled to conflict-torn Somalia is believed to have been killed as he fought for the terrorist group al-Shabaab.

Thomas Evans, 25, left his home in the leafy Buckinghamshire village of Wooburn Green in 2011 to join the al-Qaida-linked group after becoming a Muslim and changing his name to Abdul Hakim.


Evans, who told his family in 2013 he had married a 13-year-old Somali girl, is thought to be one of at least 15 al-Shabaab militants killed when the jihadi launched a dawn raid on a military base in Baure, Kenya, defence officials said.

His death, if confirmed, will be the first reported case of a British Islamist militant being killed on Kenyan soil and comes as 17-year-old Talha Asmal was reported to have become Britain’s youngest suicide bomber.

In a brief statement, Evans’s mother Sally said: “My son, Michael, and I are currently awaiting official confirmation regarding the death of my son Thomas. We cannot comment any further at this time and request the press respect our privacy.”

Evans, an electrician, attempted to fly to Kenya in February 2011, when he was 21, but was stopped by counter-terrorism police at Heathrow. He flew to Egypt a few months later in June, telling his family he was going to learn Arabic and funding his travel through a car-boot sale.

He contacted his mother in January 2012 to reveal he had travelled on to Somalia to join al-Shabaab, the jihadi group behind atrocities in Kenya, including theWestgate shopping mall attack in which nearly 70 people were killed and 175 injured.

Evan’s mother and brother told MPs on the home affairs select committee in February that she felt let down by the authorities for failing to stop him travelling to Somalia.

Ms Evans, who is divorced, described her son as a “normal teenager” who enjoyed visiting the pub on a Saturday night. She said she was initially happy with his decision to convert to Islam as he had “done one or two things that I was not proud of”.

But Evans’s behaviour soon changed after he changed mosques in High Wycombe and it started to concern his mother.

He attempted to convert his mother and brother to Islam and refused to use the same crockery as the rest of his family, resented music being played in her home and would not enter the front room during Christmas.

Evans brought a friend, Donald Stewart-Whyte, a fellow Muslim convert, to the family home, Ms Evans said. Stewart-Whyte was arrested in 2006 in connection with the liquid bomb plot to blow up planes but was later cleared of any involvement.

Despite being prevented from travelling to Kenya by police, authorities failed to contact Ms Evans.

“I wish that they had contacted us,” she told MPs. “I know he was 21, but as his mother and his brother, we could have helped them maybe, or if they had told us their concerns, we could have acted on it. We could have worked with them to help save Thomas.”

Ms Evans said she would rather her son was in prison in Britain than overseas at risk of dying for “some warped ideology”.

His brother said a “tipping point” came when Evans went on a charity trip in 2010 to Palestine called Road to Hope, from which he returned angry with strong views against the UK and US’s presence in the Middle East.

Ms Evans phoned a helpline for people with concerns that their relatives or friends were being radicalised but felt ignored because she was not a Muslim.

Evans’s brother expressed concerns that his sibling was able to travel to Egypt. “For him to go to the airport a few months later and get on a plane to Egypt, no questions asked, it just seems like there is a failure somewhere,” he said.

Colonel David Obonyo, a Kenyan military spokesman, told reporters that tests were being carried out to confirm the identity of the deceased.

“All the available data, including photographs, points to it being Thomas Evans. There is an investigation going on with forensics and DNA to confirm his identity,” he said.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We’re aware of reports of the death of a British national. We can’t confirm these at this time.”