Estonian ISIS fighter a Muslim convert (5)
According to an investigation by ETV's “Pealtnägija”, a 31-year-old Estonian is fighting in Syria with the Islamic State. The man was raised in an Orthodox Christian family and converted to Islam some time ago.
A picture of him, now known as Abdurrahman Azan, holding a grenade launcher, could be seen in Facebook until Monday. The investigative TV program argued that the man, formerly named Ivan Sazanakov, is now in Syria.
There is little information about the man who was born in Estonia, came from the Estonian Russian minority and grew up in Tallinn's Lasnamäe district.
He belonged to a taekwondo club associated with Tallinn Deputy Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart. Another member of the club is Kazbulat Šogenov, a Muslim who has represented Estonia in the sport in international competitions.
Azan was also a student of the Estonia Muslim community's mufti and head Iman Iidar Muhhamedšin. Muhhamedšin told "Pealtnägija" that he knows no one who has left Estonia to fight for the Islamic State. However, Muhhamedšin conceded that he knows Abdurrahman Azan after it emerged that they have been photographed together at the mosque.
Muhhamedšin said that Abdurrahman, formerly known as Ivan, studied at the mosque, but hasn't been there for at least two years. According to "Pealtnägija", the pictures of Azan holding weapons disappeared from Facebook a day after they spoke with Muhhamedšin.
One of Abdurrahman's friends said to Eesti Päevaleht that he left Estonia in the summer of 2013 and no one had any idea of his intentions. It was thought that Abdurrahman had gone to study Arab in Egypt and met ISIS recruiters there. He then travelled to Turkey. In the late 2013, his wife and two young daughters followed him and his friend thought that he lives in Turkey now, until the pictures Aburrahman holding a grenade launcher in Syria emerged on his Facebook account.
According to his former mates at the mosque, Aburrahman was peaceful and calm at the beginning of his Islam studies, but grew increasingly radical as time went by. He managed to convert his wife to Islam too. He became enthused by martyrs who die in the name of Allah and even showed to his friend videos where people say "La Ilaha ill Allah" (“So know that none has the right to be worshipped in truth except Allah"), before being executed.