WITHIN THE LAST HOUR the leader of the so-called Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has issued a statement admitting that the whole thing was just a stag party dare “that got a bit out of hand”. 

In a Herald exclusive, we can reveal that al-Baghdadi is actually Darren Gibson, a 34 year-old plumber from Walthamstow. Speaking from an undisclosed location just outside the Syrian city of Raqqa Gibson told our reporter that he wasn’t entirely sure how things had escalated so quickly but apologised profusely for any inconvenience that he may have caused.

“I’m pretty sure it all started in the Wetherspoons at Stanstead Airport,” said Gibson, via satellite phone. “Dave’s mate Barry, the best man, bought us five rounds of Jaeger bombs in quick succession and then somebody pulled out a list of dares for the groom. It was just the usual stuff at first – kiss a policewoman, do a streak through duty-free, stick a chilli under your foreskin –  nothing too mental.

“I’ve no idea how we got from that to ‘set up a caliphate spanning at least two Middle Eastern countries’ but you know how these things tend to snowball.”

Gibson explained that the behaviour of the group deteriorated markedly after their arrival in Turkey and continued to worsen as the effects of sun exposure and cheap local lager took their toll.

“We ramped things up once we got to the hotel and spent most of the first day lying next to the pool doing shots. The groom, Dave, had been watching a lot of CNN in the bar and started ranting about how the Middle East needed to sort its shit out. He kept going on and on about it, so some of the lads joked that he should sort it out before we got home.

“Then Gary bought a load of dodgy-looking pills from a bloke outside a nightclub and we pretty much went into meltdown. I remember trying to hitch a lift to the Syrian border with some lads in a pick-up truck but what happened after that is anyone’s guess.”

When asked to justify the slaughter and widespread destruction wrought as a direct result of the caliphate being formed, Gibson was apologetic but placed most of the blame onto a group of males who latched onto the stag party on the second day.

“You always pick up a few stragglers on a stag do but these guys were pretty full-on. I’ve still no idea where Steve picked up those machine guns but the new lads seemed to think that we were up for causing a bit of trouble.

“I don’t even speak Arabic, but the next thing I know we’ve seized half the Middle East and I’m reading some bollocks off a cue card whilst dressed like an evil wizard. It’s kind of hard to back down after that, especially when you’re surrounded by several thousand angry blokes with a penchant for beheading anyone who disagrees with them.”

Gibson told our reporter that he fully expects to face a substantial prison sentence if he does eventually make it back to the UK, though he was actually more concerned about the reaction of his wife.

“She’s going to kill me,” he said. “This is worse than the time me and the football team went on tour in Russia and accidentally ended up invading the Crimea.”