Early Doors

Lassana Diarra forced to deny absurd ‘Syria terrorist’ claims

Early Doors

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In a bizarre turn of events, Lokomotiv Moscow midfielder Lassana Diarra has been forced to deny claims that he is the so-called footballer-jihadist operating in Syria.

Last week, a masked man claiming to be a former Arsenal player was videoed calling on Islamist extremists to join the battle in Syria.

['EX-GUNNER' JOINS SYRIA JIHAD]

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) operative, who is fighting alongside other militants to establish an Islamist state in the Middle East, claimed he was an ex-Arsenal player who had turned his back on the West.

Despite the jihadist saying he had grown up in Portugal with Cristiano Ronaldo, Diarra – who is French – was rumoured to be the man now named “Abu Issa Al-Andalusi”.

"Lassana denies in the most formal, the most categoric, the most absolute fashion that he has gone to Syria," said Diarra's lawyer Eric Dupond Moretti.

"He has never set foot in Syria. It's absurd. He is not a jihadist, he is a footballer with Lokomotiv Moscow.

"He will play in Lokomotiv’s league game on Sunday."

Diarra, 29, has also played for Chelsea, Portsmouth and Real Madrid.

The rumour itself was ridiculous, given the militant fighter says he is from Portugal, and in the video is heard speaking Arabic and English with a strong Portuguese accent; Diarra is French.

The terrorist’s name should also have been a giveaway – militant converts often adopt a Muslim name based on their country of origin, with “Al-Andalusi” marking this jihadist as hailing from the Southern Iberian peninsula, for which 'Al-Andalus' is the archaic Arabic term.

Additionally, Diarra is not a convert as the man in the video claims – he was born a Muslim.

It appears the entire rumour was based around the fact that Diarra once played for Arsenal and that, like the militant, is of African descent.

Furthermore there is no evidence to suggest that the militant actually is a former Arsenal player, other than his own unverified claims.

Poor 'Lass'. At least he can't be blamed for Arsenal's current predicament.

Reda Maher - On Twitter @Reda_Eurosport

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