An Islamic State leader has given a startling frank interview about his life as one of the world’s most wanted jihadis.
He is believed to have run an encrypted app called Telegram which spread advice on how to carry out atrocities until it was cracked by French intelligence services in September.
The French-born extremist has given an on-the-record interview for the first time toAmarnath Amarasingam, an academic based in Washington who specialises in jihadism research.
He spoke candidly about a number of topics, including how he felt about beheading a prisoner.
Kassim appeared in one of Islamic State’s propaganda videos in July, six days after Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhel killed 86 people in the Nice terror attack on Bastille Day.
In it he praised the atrocity, threatened more ISIS attacks on France and callously murdered a detainee.
Asked about the killing he said: “To behead an animal, it would be difficult, with enemies of Allah, it is a pleasure.”
Kassim said he took his wife and young daughter to Syria after fleeing in the middle of the night with 1,500 Euros.
While living in France he told of being under constant surveillance because of his radical views.
“I thought of attacking France when I was there, and my family was afraid because of it,” he said.
“The cops knew about me. Every time I went jogging, there were always two cops following me. Then they hide. It was ridiculous.
“We left everything behind. Especially my cat. I had a wonderful cat that I left in Gaziantep. It was one of the saddest things about my hijrah (migration to Syria).”
Kassim said he does not fear the fall of Mosul to Western-backed Iraqi forces and that jihad will continue regardless.
He also warned that increased security measures preventing European extremists travelling to Syria would only result in more attacks on home soil.
Kassim said: “We believe that even a small attack in dar ul-kufr (non-Muslim lands) is better than a big attack in Syria.
“As the door of hijrah closes, the door of jihad opens. If I stayed in dar ul-kufr, I would do an attack there.”
Also known as Ibn Qassim, Kassim’s focus is on recruiting young French would-be jihadists.
He is said to urge followers: “Before the attack, send me a video with an oath of allegiance.”