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One of first British men to join so-called Islamic State traced to prison in northern Syria by ITV News

One of the first British men to join so-called Islamic State has been traced to a prison in northern Syria by ITV News, where he said he misses his mother, his old life in Cardiff, and wants to return home.

Aseel Muthana was presumed dead after travelling to Syria in 2014 aged 17, leaving Cardiff where he had worked as an ice cream salesman.

Aseel Muthana was just 17 years old when he left Cardiff. Credit: ITV News

When told by ITV News he was alive, his mother said she felt "extreme joy" and urged authorities to bring him home.

Aseel followed his brother Nasser Muthana and a friend, Reeyad Khan, who had already joined so-called Islamic State and featured in one of the group’s first propaganda videos aimed at western recruits.

Inside the prison, Aseel told ITV News he was lured into going to Syria by IS propaganda which claimed he would be helping Syria's poor by fighting on their side.

Rohit Kachroo speaking to Aseel in a secret jail in Syria. Credit: ITV News

“Back then when I first came to ISIS, you have to understand I came way before the caliphate was pronounced.

"Before all of these beheading videos, before all of the burnings happened, before any of that stuff.

"We came when Isis propaganda and ISIS media was all about helping the poor, helping the Syrian people.”

“We stuck with the people you know from the UK and from Wales.... the Welsh guys... me and my brother and Reeyad [Khan].”

Muthana, who is now aged 22, is being held at a secret prison in Syria where ITV News saw some of its 5,000 inmates being held in jam-packed cells.

Among the captives are men from dozens of different nationalities, including senior leaders from the group.

Muthana urged his mother to “try to stay strong” adding “what’s happened has happened and we both believe in Allah and we believe that Allah will make a way out.”

Aseel Muthana being sent back to his cell. Credit: ITV News

When shown the footage by ITV News, Umm Amin told us she was “surprised” to see the interview with her son and refused to believe it was true until we showed it to her.

She also asked in hope and in vain whether there was any news of her other son Nasser believed to have been killed.

Speaking to ITV News she explained how finding her 22-year-old son in a prison in Syria was something she believed to be “impossible”.

Her voice broke as she confirmed our footage was her son and what it feels like to see him alive.

In tears she said “I cannot explain any more than that.”

“I felt extreme joy that my boy is alive and I felt extreme sadness that my boy is in this place [prison] that I did not wish to see him there”.

Aseel Muthana speaks to ITV News Security Editor Rohit Kachroo. Credit: ITV News

In a statement to ITV News Umm Amin said: “To whom it may concern, and to those with compassionate hearts.

"We are not against you (Kurdish authorities) but I am writing with the care that a mother has for her children, my husband is in hospital sick with the weight of worry.

"My little boy went seduced [by ISIS] and brainwashed with ideas that were not his.

"So that he doesn’t know what is right and what is wrong dominated and lead by his emotions.

"My boy was gentle and merciful and didn’t know violence and harshness.

"I appeal to you.

Reyaad Khan (left) with Aseel's brother Nasser in a propaganda video in 2014

"I appeal and ask you for forgiveness and safety from those who destroyed his childhood and youth by taking the swiftest measures to bring him to his father and mother’s bosom who longs to see him.

"Have compassion for our situation."

Kurdish officials fear the prison where Muthana is being held might become a target itself after the leader of so-called IS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, urged his remaining followers to try to free the group’s members from the prisons where they are being held.

Some detainees told ITV News of tensions between the most radicalised prisoners and some who now regret joining the terror group.