Little by little, we are learning of the identities of the masked ISIS executioners whose macabre group was once headed by the infamous Muhammed Emwazi, aka “Jihadi John.” Like their front man, it seems that this entire cohort was made up exclusively of British Islamists; it’s testament to the way in which British authorities completely lost control of the situation during the 1990s and 2000s.

The latest ISIS executioner profile to have been made public is that of Alexanda Kotey, a West London convert to extremist Islam. Even before heading to Syria, Kotey was a known associate of Emwazi, the two of them frequenting the Al-Manaar mosque and disseminating extremist material there. Once operating under the auspices of Islamic State, these men not only perpetrated the beheading of some 27 mostly Western hostages, but they are also known to have routinely practiced sadistic acts of torture against their detainees. Fortunately, Emwazi was taken out by a US drone strike back in November of last year, but Kotey’s whereabouts remain unknown.

Whenever it is discovered that yet another British Islamist has run off to join ISIS, commentators engage in the usual mystified musings about what could have possibly gone so wrong. Members of their local community uniformly testify to what pleasant and ordinary people they were prior to their allegedly inexplicable radicalization.

In the case of Kotey’s path into extremism, however, there is one factor that provides something of a pointer. In February of 2009, Alexanda Kotey travelled to Gaza as part of George Galloway’s Viva Palistina convoy. Since then it has emerged that in addition to Kotey, three other known extremists left the UK and made it to the Middle East as part of Galloway’s group. But even at the time, there was ample reason to be suspicious about the nature of that travelling party. The day before the Viva Palestina group was due to set off for Hamas-controlled Gaza, British police arrested nine of its volunteers under the terms of the Terrorism Act. Yet, Galloway hit back at these moves, accusing those carrying out the arrests of attempting to “smear and intimidate the Muslim community.”

At the time, Galloway was Member of Parliament for the far-Left Respect party, and it is worth noting that until as recently as 2003, Galloway had been a Parliamentarian for Tony Blair’s centrist Labor party. And at the time of the Viva Palestina convoy, there were plenty of people willing to offer this dubious undertaking their backing. In all, the 110 truck strong convoy boasted of having raised one million pounds to take to Gaza, and BBC coverage at the time parroted the notion that this was “humanitarian aid” making its way to the Hamas enclave. Meanwhile, Jasmine Whitbread, executive of Save the Children, appeared to welcome the Viva Palestina mission, saying that she hoped it would raise awareness about the situation in Gaza.

It seems, though, that many could have done with raising their awareness of the precise nature of the “situation” in Gaza. At the very least they might have managed to remind themselves that the government of Gaza was a brutal terrorist regime that just months before Galloway’s convoy set out had been firing rockets into Israeli civilian areas while using their own people as human shields. That, after all, was clearly who the “humanitarian aid” was really going to.

Galloway is currently running in London’s mayoral election, and just as his spokespeople have denied knowledge of Kotey’s participation in the 2009 convoy, so, too, has Galloway maintained that he has never given money to Hamas. No, apparently the wads of cash you can see Galloway handing over to Hamas officials in this video were actually being given to Gaza’s Ministry of Health.

Of course, that claim is hardly helped by the fact that in the video you can repeatedly hear Galloway saying that the money is for Ismail Haniyeh — the head of Hamas in Gaza — and “the elected government of Palestine” — another rather unambiguous reference to Hamas. And as if intentionally seeking to make the likes of Jasmine Whitbread and whoever it was at the BBC who described the Viva Palestina convoy as “humanitarian” look like fools, you can also hear Galloway bellowing “this is not charity, this is politics!”

Politics, indeed. And a pretty unpleasant strain of politics at that. Abruptly adopting a Palestinian persona, Galloway declares “it makes us believe that one day we can return to our country, that we can drive them away!” It hardly takes much imagination to determine who the “them” being referred to might be.

So that was the Viva Palestina convoy on which today’s ISIS militants, such as Alexanda Kotey or the London extremist ringleader Reza Afsharzadegan, traveled from London to Gaza. It is further evidence, if any were still needed, of how the anti-Israel movement has served as conveyer belt into violent extremism for many young Muslims living in the West. And this story should also serve as a reminder that Hamas, who some would have Israel negotiate with and grant concessions to, sits only a little down the line on precisely the same dark spectrum as Islamic State.

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