How ISIS told jihadis to ‘wear Christian crosses’ and ‘avoid having beards’ to fool West

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Terror suspect Emad Al Swealmeen was reportedly a Christian convert who previously lived and prayed with a couple in Liverpool. Al Swealmeen was last night named by police as the deceased bomber in the terror incident that took place outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital on Sunday. He was the passenger in a taxi destroyed in the blast.

The 32-year-old is thought to have briefly lived at Malcolm and Elizabeth Hitchcott’s home in 2017.

It is understood that he was an asylum seeker who had converted to Christianity.

The couple described him as a “lovely guy”.

When asked if they were shocked by the incident, they replied: “Very”.

The UK’s national terror threat level has since been raised from substantial to severe, meaning further attacks are considered “highly likely”.

No terrorist organisation has claimed responsibility for the explosion.

Neither is there any evidence that Al Swealmeen was asked to carry out an attack.

In the past, groups like the Irish Republican Army (IRA) would immediately lay claim to a bombing, or, in more recent years, groups like Islamic State (IS).

Groups such as IS have previously resorted to covert operations in their targeting of the West.

In 2016, reported on a chilling guide drawn-up by IS that gave would-be jihads advice on how they might go about attacking the West.

The booklet, called ‘Safety and Security Guidelines for Lone Wolf Mujahideen’, had been shared widely on social media, and gave a chilling insight into the levels of preparation and commitment expected of those hoping to cause discontent in Europe.

It surfaced just months after the Paris attacks in 2015.

A 58-page manual emphasises the importance of surprise when launching an attack to cause maximum impact.

It claims home-grown terrorists are less likely to be noticed, and goes on to detail how nightclubs — with loud music and drunk people — are some of the best places to discuss terror plans without being recorded or pried on.

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The key element of the booklet stresses the need to blend in with the western way of life, avoiding “looking like a Muslim” in order to stay below the radar of the security services.

A chilling section urges readers to wear a Christian cross, use aftershave, cut off their beards and shun prayer meetings and mosques to avoid detection.

There is no evidence to suggest that Al Swealmeen converted to Christianity in 2017 for any of these reasons.

The introduction to the booklet, which has been translated into English for those who do not speak Arabic, says: “No doubt that today, in the era of the lone wolves, brothers in the West need to know some important things about safety in order to ensure success in their operations.

“We thought a lot of non-Arabic speaking brothers would find it interesting and may apply it in their blessed operations.”

Advice is even given about what jewellery to wear and on which hand to wear a watch.

It continues: “If you can avoid having a beard, wearing qamis, using miswak and having a booklet of dhikr with you, it’s better.

“It is permissible for you to wear a necklace showing a Christian cross.

“As you know, Christians ‒ or even atheist Westerners with Christian background ‒ wear crosses on their necklaces.

“But don’t wear a cross necklace if you have a Muslim name on your passport, as that may look strange.

“If you want to use perfume, don’t use the oily, non-alcoholic perfume that Muslims use, instead use generic alcoholic perfume as everyone does, and if you are a man, use perfume for men.

“If you are wearing a watch, don’t wear it on your right hand, as this is a sign that you are religious.

“If you have an engagement ring or something like that, it’s better to wear one in gold or better yet, don’t wear any ring at all.

“A silver ring could tell you are religious, as Islam forbids wearing gold rings for men.”


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Advice surrounding grooming habits was also provided to potential terrorists: “Your beard should be shaved off at least two weeks before your travel so the skin under your beard can be exposed to the sun.

“If you don’t do that, the fact that you removed your beard would be too easy to notice.

“If you can get a haircut in a professional hairdresser, try to do so.”

Prospective jihadis are also instructed to avoid traditional Muslim greetings.

Tips on where to plot a terror act are also given. The book goes on to highlight where to stash fake passports, and appears to mock the UK’s treatment of those with false identities.

Much more is discussed about tactics and directions in the event of a terror attack.

At the time, Europe was on high alert as just two months previous, several attacks, both foiled and successful, had shaken Paris to its core.

One saw a suicide bomber attempt to enter the Stade de France where a football match was being played, among the 80,000 in attendance the then-President Francois Hollande.

A security guard spotted the attacker’s bomb belt, at which point the attacker detonated it and killed one passer-by.

The belt was an improvised bomb containing the highly unstable explosive compound triacetone triperoxide, and was also stuck with shrapnel such as nails and ball bearings.

Similar devices would be employed by other attackers throughout the evening.

Later that evening, a team of gunmen launched a devastating attack on a series of popular nightlife spots in Paris’ 10th and 11th arrondissements.

After attacking a string of bars and restaurants, as well as a second separate bomb having gone off outside the Stade de France, the deadliest and ultimate attack was carried out at the Bataclan, a historic theatre and concert hall.

The US band, ‘Eagles of Death Metal’, were playing to a sold out crowd of 1,500 people when attackers burst in and opened fire on the audience.

They held the venue for more than two hours, keeping hostages and killing indiscriminately, before French security forces stormed the building at 12:20am.

Two of of the attackers detonated their suicide belts, while the third’s exploded on being hit by police bullets.

In all, 130 people were killed during the course of the night, with 416 injured.

The guide was just one in a handful of recent examples of IS’ English-language propaganda drives.

Before 2015, dozens of online documents, instructing their followers on everything from how to build a bomb factor to how to cross into Syria via Turkey without being caught, were published.

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