News and Views
Final moments of the ‘White Beast’: Heavily-bearded British Muslim convert is seen hugging and praying with Al-Shabaab fighters before going into battle where he was shot dead by Kenyan troops
Thomas Evans was filming firefight in northern Kenya when he was shot
- Revealing images show him hugging fellow fanatics before the onslaught
- The incredible footage was discovered on the 25-year-old Briton’s corpse
- Evans converted to Islam in 2010 and joined Somali terror group in 2011
- Man from Buckinghamshire is one of 50 British people to join Al-Shabaab
The shadows are lengthening in the bushland of northern Kenya as two cells of Al Qaeda inspired Al Shabaab fighters come together for their final briefing in the hours before launching a blood fuelled terror attack.
At their very heart is the heavily bearded British Muslim-convert Thomas Evans, a large dagger tucked behind the ammunition pouches strapped to his chest.
The Briton from the small Buckinghamshire village of Wooburn Green – known as the ‘White Beast’ because of his brutality – is clearly relaxed and smiles as he embraces fellow Islamist fighters who have crossed in groups from the Al Shabaab heartland of Somalia to team up with Kenyan-based terrorists in preparation for their dawn operations.
Hours later the 25 year-old is dead, shot as he helped lead an assault on the Kenyan Defence Force base – the first case of a British Islamist militant being killed on Kenyan soil.
The extraordinary pictures were found in a camera and series of videos discovered on the body of Evans, the group’s second in command and cameraman, in the aftermath of the 5.45am attack at Baure, Lamu County, 11-days ago.
They provide a unique insight into the role of the Briton, who had changed his name to Abdul Hakim, and is believed to have taken part in an atrocity on a nearby village a year earlier that left 70 people dead.
Taken by Evans as he shouted instructions, they also show for the first time the final seconds of his life – and the moment he is hit by the fatal bullet.
Dawn has barely broken as the fighters, illuminated only by gunfire and explosions, move from the cover of the bush to launch their assault with Evans recording what Al Shabaab hope will be another propaganda strike on the beleaguered military.
Hunched gunmen are captured blasting off bursts of automatic fire while incoming Kenyan bullets pour-in towards the fighters.
Evans is recording the frantic, terrifying moments of attack immediately behind the gunmen and would have made an easy target.
Suddenly, the footage stops as he is hit, collapsing to the ground as comrades desperately try to drag him back into the bush.
He was one of at least 11 jihadis killed in the failed attack and five remarkable videos found on Evans chronicle the hours of build-up to attack – and the Briton’s comfort in his role of jihadist.
In one sequence of his photographs, a fighter is filmed making a crude roadside bomb, packing explosives together and then squatting in the shade as he links together the wires and the detonator.
Evans then captures two fighters skinning and gutting a gazelle they have shot for a meal beside a thorn tree as a gunman, his head covered by the distinctive black and white checked head scarf popular with fighters, rests his weapon on his right shoulder.
He then hands the camera to a colleagues who show Evans, wearing a brown T-shirt, blue trousers and a camouflage cap – he is the only fighter wearing socks in his sandals, perhaps a tiny ‘nod’ towards his background – listening among a group of some fighters as they are briefed by a commander, who tells them: ‘The war starts now, we hear from their radio channels that the Kenya are crying like babies, fear has struck in their hearts.
The war starts now, we hear from their radio channels that the Kenya are crying like babies, fear has struck in their hearts… God has given Islam real lions that are feared’
Evans, before he was shot dead in Kenya
‘God has given Islam real lions that are feared.’
Evans, his cap reversed, sits cross-legged as men carry out final weapons’ check on the arsenal laid out in front of them.
Distinctive black and white flags of Al Shabaab hang on wooden stakes. Several daggers have been driven in to the dirt in a shaded clearing.
Significantly, a second white European with thick beard and dark hair hanging beyond his muscled shoulders can be seen in many of the pictures with Evans.
He survived the attack and has been named as German, Andreas Martin Muller, alias Abu Nusaybah, who has a £64,000 bounty on his head.
The body of Evans, who is one of at least 50 Britons suspected of operating with Al Shabaab, has been buried in northern Kenya after formal identification was carried out with DNA from his family.
An intelligence official in the Kenyan capital Nairobi described the former electrician as a ‘significant and totally integrated figure’ within the units of Al Shabaab operating in northern Kenya during the last two years.
He is said to have taken part in the attack last year on the predominantly Christian town of Mpeketoni last year in which 70 people were killed. Gunmen went from house to house singling out Christians, shooting them in the head and chest in front of their families before torching homes.
Evans has also been linked to the horrific attack on Garissa University College in north east Kenya this April that left 147 people dead and over a hundred injured.
Gunmen took over 700 students hostage, freeing Muslims and killing those who identified as Christians. Survivors of attacks by Evans are said to have told how he broke down doors with an axe to find victims, and personally beheaded one man whose hands were tied behind his back.
On previous attacks, most notably Mpeketoni, Al Shabaab is known to have taken photographs and video for both propaganda and to use as part of their training camps.
Officials believe Evans was tasked with capturing the build-up and attack on Baure but, it is understood, security forces had a tip-off and were waiting for the attack in which two soldiers died.
The son of a devout Christian and Conservative party agent, Evans converted to Islam in 2010, aged 19, after splitting up with his girlfriend.
His mother Sally Evans said she believed he was radicalised after leaving a moderate local mosque to attend a hard-line prayer centre.
Evans attempted to fly to Kenya in February 2011, when he was 21, but was stopped by counter-terrorism police at Heathrow. He flew to Egypt in June, telling his family he was going to learn Arabic and funding his travel through a car-boot sale.
Kenyan police revealed the following month he flew from Cairo, via Ethiopia, to Nairobi where he was stopped by Kenyan authorities because his name was on a terror watchlist provided by the UK. A police report said : ‘The subject indicated his motive of visit was to spend Ramadan prayers in Kenya.’ Officers said that in his luggage they found a Koran, sleeping bag, pair of boots and a black kanzu robe and perfume.
He was travelling with three friends and told officers, who sent him back to Egypt, that he planned to stay at the Incas Hotel in Mombasa, at the time seen as a hotbed of radical recruitment.