London: Britain's intelligence services had tried to recruit Indian-origin IS terror suspect Siddhartha Dhar as a double agent before he managed to flee to Syria, a media report here claimed on Sunday.
Dhar, who was dubbed the "new Jihadi John" after he emerged as key suspect as the masked terrorist seen in a recent Islamic State (IS) video threatening an attack on Britain, was allegedly contacted twice by MI5 officers before he was arrested for terrorist offences, the 'Sunday Times' reported.
Quoting a security source the paper said that Dhar, who goes by the name of Abu Rumaysah, had earlier been tracked and stopped in the street by MI5 officers in what is known as a "bump" operation.
The 32-year-old Dhar was warned he was on MI5's "radar" and his activities were being monitored.
Dhar was contacted by MI5 for a second time and was offered the chance to work for the agency. It is not known how he responded, the newspaper claims.
Dhar, a Hindu-born Muslim convert and former bouncy castle salesman from London, was allegedly warned that he was likely to end up in jail or dead unless he agreed to become a double agent gathering intelligence on terrorist suspects for the security service.
A few days after the second contact was made, in September 2014, Dhar was arrested alongside extremist preacher Anjem Choudary on suspicion of links to the banned Al Muhajiroun.
The security source told the newspaper, "MI5 had a lot of intelligence on Dhar. He was regarded as a militant Islamist and although he was a potential threat, he was also a potential asset to MI5."
"It is a tried and tested tactic to try to recruit those who may pose a threat to the security of the state...Dhar was bumped and told he was on MI5's radar. They basically said: 'We know who you are, what you are up to, who you have been meeting with and what you are planning'.