"Abu Taubah took pictures of his cat and of the food he liked"
But why had Taubah (Arabic for "repentance") chosen the path of jihad as a response to injustice? And weren't Isis committing injustices too? Soon I would question him about this. But first, I wanted to know about his past.
Half in jest, I probed him based on what I knew about the profiles of some jihadis: "Let me guess… in your pre-Islam life, you were in a gang of some sort, took drugs and went to jail?" He replied with "no comment".
He was only prepared to reveal that his past was "bad" and that he looked on the bright side now: "When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade."
Taubah gradually began to open up more, telling me he went to university in the UK, enjoyed Muay Thai, playing chess and once had a dog. He said his family didn't understand him, but he loved them and missed them - the Nigerian side (he never knew the Irish side).
In Syria, he cooked meals with his friends, adopted a cat and liked the "halal partying" on Eid, which meant "eating food and having fun with the ikhwan [brothers]". Taubah even learned to speak Arabic by mixing with the other fighters. He told me there were many foreign fighters living with their families in Raqqa, where it was "easier not to sin".
Despite his online persona, I wasn't sure if Taubah actually engaged in combat. When I asked what job he did for Isis, he vaguely told me: "We work for Allah in the day and rest at night." He said he couldn't reveal details for security reasons, nor did he want to jeopardise his family in any way. But I wondered if his withholding information might also have been because he planned to return home.
As well as bombarding me with jihadi literature, Taubah also asked questions like "how many countries have you travelled to?" and "what's the most horrific thing you've seen?"
... to do with chess Index