A former NHS surgeon accused of joining ISIS is pleading with his former patients to back his bid for freedom from his cell in Syria.
Muhammad Saqib Raza, 40, was captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in January attempting to smuggle himself out of the country and now he’s begging his former patients to speak up for him as a form of payment.
He was accused of trying to radicalise colleagues at a number of NHS hospitals before he travelled to Syria in 2016.
After he was captured, he told the SDF that he was not a fighter with Islamic State but worked as a medic in areas under the group’s control.
Muhammad Saqib Raza was captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces on the Turkish border
The surgeon, who has been locked up in a Kurdish ‘hell hole’ jail for over a year, has pleaded with British authorities to repatriate him to face trial in the UK.
He told The Mirror that he is a ‘victim of anti-terrorism terrorism’ as the Home Office had done nothing to get the dual Pakistani-UK citizen back to the UK.
The facial surgeon from Leicester, who worked in hospitals all over the country during his eight-year stint at the NHS, said that he treated his patients like family’ when they wanted help.
He pleaded with them, saying: ‘My patients, maybe you care. I beg you, patients of mine, to help me in return for what I did for you.’
Raza split from his wife and left his four-year-old son to go to Turkey in 2017 after he became more extreme in his religious Islamist views, growing his beard out and wearing religious clothing, according to former neighbours.
The well-spoken doctor claims to have been kidnapped on the Turkish border with Syria before being sold to IS extremists saying when he heard the bombs he wished they would kill him.
A female fighter of the US-backed Kurdish-led SDF flashes the victory gesture
The last IS stronghold- the town of Baghouz in eastern Syria is pictured above after the Syrian Defense Forces declared a 100 per cent territorial defeat of ISIS
The Kurdish-led, US-backed SDF forces declared victory over the Islamic State yesterday
He was captured by the Kurds Raqqa last year, he said, when he escaped IS. Syrian Democratic Forces accused him of being a fighter for the terrorists but he denies this, despite being unable to explain why he had a laptop and 13,000 euros on him when caught.
The doctor, who still owns a home in Leicester said the British government won’t even give him a chance to ‘prove my innocence by bringing me back to England’.
‘In fact, not even one British intelligence officer has come to interrogate me in my 419 days in a place that’s not fit for cats and dogs. I call on them, ‘Come talk to me’,’ he said.
The 40-year-old’s explanation for being so close to the war zone is that he was given ‘a soft heart by God’ and wanted to spend a week treating victims of the conflict.
A Syrian refugee reacts as he waits behind border fences to cross into Turkey in 2015
The former NHS doctor said he was kidnapped on the Turkish border with Syria this year
Aside from wanting to return to the UK, Raza also said he is sharing a cell with IS fighters, one of whom – a British man – he recognises.
He said: ‘I’m alongside a guy who I saw in IS territory. He was a feared intelligence officer. He is probably planning my death.
He also criticised ISIS bride Shamima Begum, saying she must ‘be held responsible for a decision she made.’
Shamima Begum, who lived in Bethnal Green, London, left the UK in February 2015 to join ISIS.
She was found in the al-Hawl Refugee Camp in February 2019 by a journalist from The Times.
Begum was nine months pregnant and said she wanted to return home. She then gave birth to her baby son, who died earlier this month.
She was stripped of her citizenship by the Home Secretary Sajid Javid, but Begum’s family have since started a legal challenge against the decision.
Syrians fleeing the war rush through broken down border fences to enter Turkish territory
The UK kept tabs on 900 people who travelled to Syria to engage in the conflict there, the Home Office says approximately 20% have been killed and around 40% have since returned to the UK.
He said: ‘My only crime is being a Muslim. If I was a Jew or a Christian, people would believe I was a humanitarian and not a terrorist.’
He added that nobody hates ‘those ISIS head-choppers’ as much as he does.
He said that if he’s allowed home he can help educate people against going to join ISIS and stop them from becoming radicalised.
‘But now I see that no help coming, I want to die. For me, death is freedom,’ he added.