UK teens wed fighters?: Schoolgirls Married Isis
Published: July 4, 2015
UK teens wed fighters?: Schoolgirls Married Isis, Two of the three east London schoolgirls who fled to join Islamic State in Syria have married men approved for them by the terrorist group, their families have told the Guardian.
Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Amira Abase, 15, fled in February from Britain after deceiving their parents and siblings.
Two of the teenagers have been allowed to tell their families that they have been married and are living in the war-torn country. One phoned and another used a social media platform to tell the loved ones the news that they have been dreading. At the request of their families, the Guardian is not naming the married pair.
Their families are said be be distraught at the news and have been clinging to the hope their daughters would want to come home.
The schoolgirls say that they have been separated and have been living apart for several weeks, in and around Raqqa, Syria – an Isis stronghold.
The two schoolgirls have been living with the men whom they married in a ceremony approved by Isis authorities.
The two schoolgirls are understood to have been given an effective “catalogue” of men deemed suitable by Isis for marriage. They then made their picks from those presented to them. The teenagers who married are believed to have been wed to older men, in their 20s.
Tasnime Akunjee, a solicitor representing the families, said the families were grieving at the news of the marriages, as told to them by their daughters: “It has caused a lot of distress. It entrenches their lives in Syria, rather than in Britain. It erodes significantly hopes that they will come back.”
The girls initially lived together in Raqqa. They plotted the trip together, drawing up a shopping list of items to take with them.
They had all been gifted students at the Bethnal Green academy in east London, before being lured by Isis propaganda.
They fled on 17 February while they were on a half-term break, taking a flight from Gatwick to Turkey, which borders Syria. A few days later, they are believed to have crossed the border and entered land in Syria held by Isis.
The loss of the girls was a blow to the Muslim community in east London and hit home across Britainhow powerful Isis’s lure could be. Since then, three women from Bradford are feared to have taken nine children to Isis-controlled land, and it emerged three generations from a family of 12 from Luton may have followed suit.
On Friday night, the Daily Telegraph showed video claiming to show the girls in Isis controlled territory in Syria out shopping, with a gun-toting woman leading them.
The girls’ families do not believe it is them. All three of the women shown in the video are unidentifiable because they are wearing burqas.
The video, which was taken by a group that says it opposes Isis, was shot eight weeks ago. Six weeks ago, the families’s lawyer was approached by another media organisation about whether the people featured in it were the London teenagers.
Akunjee said: “At the time the video was shot, two of the girls are known to be married and separated from their friends from east London.
“The families think the video is unlikely to be them. All three are living apart and those who are married are under the aegis of their husbands and are unlikely to be under the aegis of some woman leader.”
The Metropolitan police did not confirm any knowledge of the girls’ whereabouts, but said that its investigation into the three girls – plus a fourth student from the same school who went missing previously – was ongoing.”The investigation into all of the missing girls continues. It remains a priority to try to prevent people travelling to join terrorist groups whether they be determined terrorists, radicalised individuals or vulnerable teenagers. We will continue to work with our partners and the authorities to combat this risk and prevent tragedies,” it said.
The group that took the video, called Eye on Homeland, said when the girls arrived in Raqqa, they were locked in a compound for widows and would-be jihadi brides, while their loyalty to the terrorist group was tested.
The group claimed the girls were forbidden to leave the building without their chaperone, a woman handler known as Um Laith – “Mother of the Lion” – tasked with “purifying their western minds” by instilling the practices of the caliphate.
In March, Scotland Yard commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said the teenagers could return home without fear of being prosecuted for terrorism, as long as no evidence emerged of them being engaged in violence.
Their families believe police kept crucial information from them that could have alerted them to the fact they were in danger of being lured by the terrorists. Police have apologised.
The head of counter terrorism for Scotland Yard, assistant commissioner Mark Rowley, said in March: “We have no evidence in this case that these three girls are responsible for any terrorist offences. They have no reason to fear, if nothing else comes to light, that we will be treating them as terrorists.”
Rowley said the three girls were different to someone “running around in northern Iraq and Syria with Kalashnikovs”, who then apologised for having committed terrorist offences.
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