AMMAN, Jordan (AP) — A Jordanian parliament member said he learned from Islamic State-linked media that his son carried out a suicide attack in Iraq, three months after dropping out of medical school and joining the extremist group.
The case highlights the continued grassroots appeal of IS ideas in the region, including in staunchly pro-Western Jordan, a partner in the U.S.-led military campaign against the group. IS militants have seized large parts of Syria and Iraq, both neighbors of Jordan.
"My son had everything, a family, money, and studying medicine, but he was controlled by terrible thoughts," the legislator, Mazen Dalaeen told The Associated Press. "He was deceived and tricked by Islamic State. Islamic State is in every home through TVs and the Internet."
On Sunday, the family observed the last day of the traditional three-day mourning for 23-year-old Mohammed Dalaeen. The family is from the town of Ai in southern Jordan that was also home to a Jordanian fighter pilot who was captured by IS late last year and burned alive in a cage by the militants.
The legislator said in the mourning tent that his son had changed rapidly in a short period and that at the beginning of the year he had taken part in a solidarity march for the pilot.
Dalaeen said he learned of the death of his son last week from IS-linked media and a TV station in Iraq's Anbar province. One of the sites, Dabiq, said suicide attackers drove three car bombs into Iraqi army barracks on the northern outskirts of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar.
Dalaeen said he recognized his son in one of the photos of the purported suicide attackers posted on the IS sites, under the nom de guerre "Abu Baraa, the Jordanian."
The legislator said he last saw Mohammed in Ukraine in June and stayed with him and his Ukrainian wife, a convert to Islam, for a week. Mohammed was a third-year medical student.
"I noticed that his behavior had changed completely," Dalaeen said in a phone interview Saturday. "He had become isolated" and had grown a large beard.
Dalaeen said he told his son in a heated argument that he would cut ties with him if he didn't drop his support for the extremists. The next day, Mohammed left for Turkey without telling his father.
Dalaeen tried to track him down, eventually heading to Turkey's border with Syria, but was unsuccessful.
Mohammed later reached out on Facebook, telling his father he was in Syria and had joined IS. "He was very cruel with me, as if he wasn't my son," Dalaeen said. "He said I'm an infidel and don't fear God, and that I legislate against Islam in parliament. My efforts to get him back failed."
On Aug. 20, Mohammed informed his father through Facebook that it would be their last contact. He wrote that he had completed his Islamic studies and would head into battle as a volunteer for "martyrdom operations," Dalaeen said.
An estimated 2,000 Jordanians are fighting in the ranks of IS and its militant rival from the al-Qaida network, the Syria-based Nusra Front, said Hassan Abu Haniyeh, an expert on extremist groups. He said about 350 Jordanians have been killed in fighting in the two countries.
This includes Omran al-Abadi, the son of Jordanian parliament member Mohammed al-Abadi.
Omran, an Egyptian-trained physician, joined the Nusra Front in Syria and was killed in January in a clash with the Syrian army. The legislator said Sunday that he did not hold the traditional mourning ceremony because he did not want to validate his son's actions.
"Those who fight in the ranks of such extremists mustn't be mourned, even by those closest to them," he said of his son's death.