Jihadist who left Britain to join ISIS in Syria was responsible for the slick footage showing Jordanian airman being burned alive in a cage, says prominent Islamist 

  • Fabio Pocas, 22, moved to London with dreams of becoming a footballer
  • But he abandoned the sport and converted to radical Islam instead
  • Joined ISIS in Syria along with four other Portuguese Muslim converts 
  • Has now been identified as the militant who filmed Jordanian pilot's murder
  • Muath al-Kasasbeh was burned alive while locked in a cage in February 

A Portuguese national who moved to London with dreams of becoming a professional footballer has been identified as the depraved ISIS militant who filmed the sickening murder of a Jordanian pilot.

A prominent ISIS jihadi today claimed Fabio Pocas was the man behind the slick and professionally edited footage of Muath al-Kasasbeh being burned to death while locked in a cage in northern Syria.

The chilling revelation suggests the Lisbon-born 22-year-old has established himself as a prominent member of the terror group's Al-Furqan media centre, which has been responsible for some of the most barbaric propaganda videos ever released by ISIS extremists.

The gruesome murder of Mr al-Kasasbeh is widely considered to be one of the most horrific acts ever committed to film and employed expensive HD cameras and Hollywood-style cinematic effects to capture the full brutality of his shocking death.

Terrorist: Portuguese national Fabio Pocas who moved to London with dreams of becoming a professional footballer (left) later joined ISIS (right) and became involved in their propaganda wing Al-Furqan Media

Depraved: The gruesome murder of Mr al-Kasasbeh is widely considered to be one of the most horrific acts ever committed to film and employed expensive HD cameras and Hollywood-style cinematic effects

Depraved: The gruesome murder of Mr al-Kasasbeh is widely considered to be one of the most horrific acts ever committed to film and employed expensive HD cameras and Hollywood-style cinematic effects

Pocas was known to be one of five Portuguese men who embraced radical Islam while living in east London and ended up joining militants fighting for the Islamic State in Syria early last year.

Although the men were a mix students and menial workers in the UK, they have been on the radar of counter-terror experts ever since leaving the country, thanks to a series of clues on social media that suggest the cell holds inside information about the filmed murders of Western hostages. 

However today's message posted from an account known to be used by ISIS supporters is the first time Pocas has been explicitly linked to the actual filming of a terrorist execution video.

Calling himself 'State Body Parts' and posting in Arabic, the ISIS supporter wrote: 'Brother media 'Fabio Kabios' God save the photographer who issued 'Healing the Believers Chests' to burn the forbidden pilot Kasasbeh.' 

Although he spelled Pocas' surname wrong, the jihadi accompanied the post with a photograph of the Portuguese militant posing with an AK47 assault rifle, purportedly taken somewhere in ISIS-held territory in northern Syria.

'Healing the Believers Chests' was the title of the video showing Mr al-Kasasbeh's murder, as well as the hashtag used by the terror group to spread the sickening footage on social media.

Promising: Pocas (circled), pictured with amateur side UK Football Finder, had received attention from an agent who told him he could expect a trial at a professional club

Promising: Pocas (circled), pictured with amateur side UK Football Finder, had received attention from an agent who told him he could expect a trial at a professional club

Horror: The video, which is ISIS' most sickening yet, begins by showing Kasasbeh being paraded in front of heavily armed men wearing combat fatigues and yellow masks

Horror: The video, which is ISIS' most sickening yet, begins by showing Kasasbeh being paraded in front of heavily armed men wearing combat fatigues and yellow masks

Brutal: The footage, which is titled 'Healing the Believers Chests' appears to show the captured airman wearing an orange jumpsuit as a trail of petrol leading up to the cage is seen being set alight

Brutal: The footage, which is titled 'Healing the Believers Chests' appears to show the captured airman wearing an orange jumpsuit as a trail of petrol leading up to the cage is seen being set alight

Pocas was one of five militants who moved from their native Portugal to London, where they converted to Islam from Catholicism, adopted extremist views and eventually travelled on to join ISIS in Syria.

Claim: Today's message - posted from an account used by an ISIS supporter - is the first time Pocas has been explicitly linked the terror group's videos

Claim: Today's message - posted from an account used by an ISIS supporter - is the first time Pocas has been explicitly linked the terror group's videos

The men, who lived in Leyton and Walthamstow, have long been on the radar of intelligence officials - who believe the group plays a vital role in the production and dissemination of the sick beheading videos featuring Jihadi John.

At 22 Pocas is the youngest member of the group and moved to London from Lisbon in 2012 with dreams of becoming a professional footballer.  

He had previously played at the youth academy of Sporting Lisbon - a club which has bred a host of world stars including Luis Figo and Cristiano Ronaldo. 

After arriving in London, Pocas began playing for an amateur league team called UK Football Finder Football Club (UKFFFC), where he flourished. After helping the side become champions of their division, he was offered the prospect of a trial with a professional club.

It was around this time that Pocas converted to Islam, however, with his newly found faith taking his mind away from football and leading to his failure to take advantage of the opportunity. 

Weeks later Pocas 'disappeared' from London, only to resurface later in ISIS propaganda photos and to reveal on social media that he had changed his name to Abdurahman Al Andalus and was now living in ISIS' Syrian stronghold Manjib with his Dutch, teenage jihadi bride.

The 22-minute video showing the murder of Mr al-Kasasbeh was widely considered a new low, even by ISIS' barbaric standards. 

As with previous beheading videos featuring British executioner Jihadi John, the clip was characterised by its slick production values and graphics.

Barbaric: An ISIS extremist lights a trail of petrol leading to the cage in which the 26-year-old pilot stands

Barbaric: An ISIS extremist lights a trail of petrol leading to the cage in which the 26-year-old pilot stands

Captured: Muath al-Kasasbeh (centre in white) was captured by the Islamic State after after crashing near its HQ in the Syrian city of Raqqa in December. ISIS is now believed to brutally murdered him

Captured: Muath al-Kasasbeh (centre in white) was captured by the Islamic State after after crashing near its HQ in the Syrian city of Raqqa in December. ISIS is now believed to brutally murdered him

But unlike the other videos, it contained an added cinematic dimension designed for unparalleled impact on the viewer - as if the horror of watching someone torched to death wasn't enough.

The manner of his death is a symbolic show of strength to strike terror into 'non-believers' and encourage recruits or doubters within their ranks in equal measure.

Speaking at the time, Dr Andreas Krieg, assistant professor for defence studies at King's College London in Qatar, told MailOnline: 'This is a new dimension of brutality, but ISIS had to evolve stylistically from beheadings.

'The global public got more or less used to it. ISIS shows innovation in finding new means of psychological warfare or terrorism. The helplessness of the victim, the viciousness and thought with which the fire was arranged make the video unwatchable.

'It is similar to the first time the world saw beheadings. It is psychological shock and awe delivered through the power of imagery. It's like a sickening game show. Everything is so pre-arranged and planned - just the contestant has no chance to escape. It is a new level of terror.'