Sally-Anne Frances Jones (17 November 1968 – c. June 2017), also known as Umm Hussain al-Britani, or also known as Sakinah Hussein and the White Widow was a British-born terrorist and UN-designated recruiter and propagandist for the Islamic State (ISIS). She is believed to have been killed in June 2017, but this remains unconfirmed.
Jones was born in Greenwich, south-east London. Her parents divorced when she was a young child; her father took his own life when she was ten. Brought up as a Catholic, she participated in Christian youth groups while a teenager, leaving school at 16 and entering employment working for L’Oréal selling cosmetics. A former punk rock guitarist and singer active during the 1990s in an all-female band called Krunch, Jones is reported to have been living on welfare benefits (which she denied) in a council house in Chatham, Kent and to have used a food bank before her departure for Syria. Spending much time on the internet, she became interested in witchcraft and alternative life-styles.
Jones converted to Islam and left her previous partner claiming, in social media exchanges with Sunday Times journalist Dipesh Gadher, that the Iraq War had converted her (around May 2013), to the ISIS cause. Together with Junaid Hussain, she was a participant in a group of ISIS computer hackers known as "TeaMp0isoN". Jones travelled to Syria with her younger son in late 2013 to join Hussain, originally from Birmingham, who soon became her husband.
Hussain was killed by a U.S. drone strike on 25 August 2015, and was formerly in charge of recruiting new hackers to ISIS. After Hussain's death, Jones commented that her husband was killed by "the greatest enemy of Allah". He was "a good role model for my children", Jones told Dipesh Gadher. The following month, Jones was one of four Britons placed on the UN's most wanted list at the request of the British prime minister David Cameron. It was, believed to be the first time any country had placed its own nationals on a list of ISIS operatives. Responding on Twitter, Jones said she would continue to fight "England...until my last breath".
Jones's activity online fell in line with her role as leader of the secret Anwar al-Awlaki battalion’s female wing. In this role, Jones was responsible for training all European female recruits, or muhajirat, in the use of weapons and tactics. These muhajirat were then trained and instructed to carry out suicide missions in the West, according to leaked ISIS documents. Despite some reports, according to Kim Sengupta in The Independent, there is no proof of her leading all-female groups of ISIS members into battle.
According to the Counter Extremism Project (CEP), Jones used Twitter to propagandise for ISIS. She is believed to have recruited hundreds of British women to work for ISIS, and in 2016 called on female sympathisers in Britain to make terrorist strikes in London, Glasgow, and Wales during Ramadan. American court documents made available in spring 2017 linked Jones and her husband to at least a dozen ISIS plots, but many of these either did not take place or were stopped. She was involved in publishing online three lists of US military personnel intended as potential targets for jihadists. By this time, the American military reportedly considered her a "high priority" for assassination.
In October 2017, it was reported that Jones had been killed in an American drone strike in June 2017, along with her 12-year-old son JoJo, having last been seen fleeing from a drone strike in Raqqa, but this has not been fully confirmed. According to Shiraz Maher, Jones is the first woman to be directly targeted in an airstrike, and one of only two women considered at the time by the American state department as a foreign terrorist combatant.
Jones had decided to raise her younger son, JoJo, as an ISIS child soldier. Her former partner in August 2016 said their son had participated in a video in which JoJo, along with four other boys, had shot five Kurdish hostages in the back of the head. Jones issued a statement saying it was not her son.
Jones and her husband regularly used their son as a human shield to prevent being targeted by drone attacks. The legal case for JoJo's and his mother's killing is contested because his young age still means he would be classified as a "non-combatant". According to guidance from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Jones may not be considered a member of ISIS (she would be a legitimate target if she was), because she did not carry out a "continuous combat function". Amnesty International said the killing of Jones and her son was of "questionable legality".
An older son, aged 20, remained in the UK. JoJo's reported death was disputed in November 2017 by Syrian sources. However, in January 2018, Dipesh Gadher of The Sunday Times wrote of an "informed source" who had told him "it’s 99.9% certain that they were both killed"; the small doubt remains because of the difficulty of retrieving DNA samples from war zones.
However, in October 2018, it was reported that a captured ISIS member revealed that Jones and her son survived the airstrike and went into hiding.
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- Gadher, Dipesh (28 January 2018). "Fate of Jihadi Sally's boy casts shadow over Isis 'cubs'". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 28 January 2018.