April 16, 2014
A jihadist fighter described as a former Arsenal footballer has been identified as a Portuguese citizen, it can be disclosed.
The man appeared in a video released online two weeks ago urging others to join the jihadists, using a false name and speaking in a heavy accent.
Rumours spread in the media and across the internet that the man was Lassana Diarra, 29, who played international football for France and for clubs including Arsenal, Chelsea, Portsmouth. Diarra was forced to deny he had ever set foot in the war-torn country.
The video was posted in an account linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) which is associated with al-Qaida.
British and foreign security services performed analysis on his accent and learned that he is probably Portuguese, sources have now disclosed.
They believe the man is an individual called Celso Rodrigues Da Costa who had been living in Leyton, east London with his two brothers.
In the video posted last week, the man believed to be Da Costa was wearing a balaclava and a relatively smart, green quilted jacket as he sat beside a lake, brandishing an AK-47.
He was sending a message to the people of the Ukraine, apparently in the belief that Muslims in the Ukraine or Crimea might want to join the fight in Syria.