Shamima Begum

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Shamima Begum.jpg
Shamima Begum in 2015

Amira Abase, Shamima Begum and Kadiza Sultana are three British women who previously attended the Bethnal Green Academy in London before leaving home in February 2015 to join ISIS. According to the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, they were amongst an estimated 550 women and girls from Western countries who had travelled to join ISIS[1]—part of what some[2] have called "a jihadi, girl-power subculture".[3]

Background

On 17 February 2015, Abase, Begum and Sultana flew via Turkish Airlines from Gatwick Airport in West Sussex to Istanbul.[4] Their families went to Turkey in March to probe the disappearance, deeming the police investigation inadequate.[5]

Their disappearance has been attributed to Aqsa Mahmood, a woman from Glasgow who joined ISIS in 2013. There have been electronic communications between the girls and Mahmood. Mahmood faces criminal charges if she returns.[6] Mahmood denies the allegations.[7]

In March 2015, footage was circulated of Abase Hussen, father of Amira Abase, on a 2012 rally led by Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary against the film Innocence of Muslims. The Metropolitan Police examined the footage but said that it was unlikely that offences had been committed.[8] Hussen said in April that he feels ashamed of his involvement in the rally, as he did not know who had organised it.[9]

The girls stole family jewellery to pay for their flight. At a 2015 Home Affairs Select Committee, then Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe stated that they would not face criminal charges if they returned to the United Kingdom.[10]

Aftermath

The disappearance resulted in the Metropolitan Police giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons on its circumstances in March 2015. The families of the girls received an apology from Scotland Yard, who did not tell them about Sharmeena Begum, the other girl from their school who went to Syria in 2014.[11]

British Prime Minister David Cameron has said that police should not be made "scapegoats" for people joining ISIS.[12] Contrary to the stance of the Metropolitan Police, Cameron said:

"Whoever has gone out to join a terrorist organisation is breaking the law and has to face the consequences of breaking the law and we have to let the law take its course in the proper way".[13]

In March 2015, a travel ban was imposed upon five girls from the Bethnal Green Academy due to concerns from social services that the girls attend the same school as the three who had already joined the group, stating that it was in the public interest.[14]

The teenagers have not made contact with their families since May 2016. Shamima Begum was reported to have married an American jihadist recruit who left her once she became pregnant, whilst Sultana is said to have married a western ISIS fighter with Somali heritage, but wanted to return to the UK after he was killed in battle. Shortly afterwards she was killed in a Russian airstrike.[15] Sultana's family in a phone interview with ITV in August 2016 said that they believed her to have died in an airstrike in May 2016 at the age of 17 while planning to escape.[16][17] The lawyer who represents the family of the teenagers Tasnime Akunjee told ITV that she became too scared of making an escape attempt after another girl Samra Kesinovic was beaten to death for trying to escape.[18] Abase married an 18-year-old Australian jihadist, Abdullah Elmir in July 2016 who was reported by Australian intelligence agencies to have been killed in coalition airstrikes. After the teenagers married foreign jihadists, they moved into the homes of their new husbands in ISIS' de facto capital Raqqa.[19]

Interviewed by Times' journalist

In February 2019, The Times journalist Anthony Loyd found Shamima Begum in a Syrian refugee camp. When interviewed, Begum revealed that she was pregnant and hoped to return to the UK to raise her child, but does not regret her decision to join ISIS. She was unfazed by the head of a beheaded man as he was "an enemy of Islam", but believes that ISIS did not deserve victory because of their corruption and oppression.[20] When asked if she would be extracted from Syria, Security minister Ben Wallace claimed:

"I'm not putting at risk British people's lives to go and look for terrorists or former terrorists in a failed state."[21] On 16 February, Shamima Begum gave birth to a boy.[22]

Shamima Begum was again interviewed by BBC correspondent Quentin Sommerville. During the interview, Begum asked for forgiveness and claimed that she still supports "some British values". She said she was inspired to join ISIS by videos of fighters beheading hostages and also of "the good life" under the group. However, Somerville noted that she continues to espouse the ISIS ideology and justifies its atrocities. When asked about the Manchester Arena bombing, she claimed it was wrong to kill innocent people but justified it as retaliation for the coalition bombing ISIS-held areas. When questioned about the rape, enslavement and murder of Yazidi women she claimed:

"Shia do the same in Iraq".[23]

On 20 February 2019, UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced that an order had been made with the intention of stripping Begum of her UK citizenship. Should the order be confirmed she would be stateless, though eligible for Bangladeshi citizenship.[24][25]

 

Related Document

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Did Canadian taxpayers foot Islamic State’s recruitment billArticle5 November 2015Tony GoslingPieces in the secret service puzzle, such as how the girls were persuaded to get on the flight to Istanbul and how Canadian intelligence knew where and when they would be arriving remain unanswered. And this systematic failure of London’s media to report the key facts in this story begs the question: why have we not been told the full story?


References

  1. Saltman, Erin Marie; Smith, Melanie (2015). 'Till Martyrdom Do Us Part' Gender and the ISIS Phenomenon (PDF). Institute for Strategic Dialogue. p. 4. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-30. Retrieved 25 February 2016.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  2. Thomas Hegghammer, an expert on Islamist militancy affiliated with the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (source: GILSINAN, KATHY (25 July 2014). "The ISIS Crackdown on Women, by Women". The Atlantic. Retrieved 25 February 2016.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").)
  3. GILSINAN, KATHY (25 July 2014). "The ISIS Crackdown on Women, by Women". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on 2019-01-28. Retrieved 25 February 2016.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  4. "Syria girls: Families 'cannot stop crying'". BBC News. 22 February 2015. Archived from the original on 2018-10-24. Retrieved 7 April 2015.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  5. "Isil defector girls' families go to Turkey to probe disappearance". The Daily Telegraph. 23 March 2015. Archived from the original on 2018-07-03. Retrieved 7 April 2015.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  6. "Scots jihadi will be prosecuted if she comes home, say police". stv.tv. 10 March 2015. Archived from the original on 2018-07-01. Retrieved 7 April 2015.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  7. Cook, James (16 March 2015). "Glasgow 'jihadist' Aqsa Mahmood denies recruiting London girls". BBC News. Archived from the original on 2018-10-29. Retrieved 7 April 2015.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  8. Morgan, Ben (27 March 2015). "Jihadi schoolgirl's father marched at flag-burning rally". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 2018-08-29. Retrieved 7 April 2015.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  9. "Father of schoolgirl feared to have joined Islamic State denies 'extremism' claim". ITV News. 7 April 2015. Archived from the original on 2017-12-01. Retrieved 7 April 2015.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  10. Barrett, David (10 March 2015). "Three 'Jihadi brides' from London who travelled to Syria will not face terrorism charges if they return". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2019-02-15. Retrieved 7 April 2015.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  11. Morris, Nigel (12 March 2015). "Police sorry for failure to warn families of Isis girls about schoolfriend's flight". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 2017-12-01. Retrieved 7 April 2015.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  12. "Leaders: Vigilance crucial or more will be lost to IS". The Scotsman. 10 March 2015. Archived from the original on 2018-07-01. Retrieved 7 April 2015.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  13. Beake, Nick (31 March 2015). "David Cameron concerned over Syria-bound London girls". BBC News. Archived from the original on 2019-01-26. Retrieved 7 April 2015.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  14. Bowcott, Owen (27 March 2015). "Travel ban for five east London girls over fears they will join Isis in Syria". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2018-06-20. Retrieved 7 April 2015.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  15. De Peyer, Robin (6 August 2017). "Families fear Bethnal Green schoolgirls who travelled to join Isis are now dead". London: London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 2018-07-01. Retrieved 1 July 2018.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  16. Henley, Jon; Dodd, Vikram (12 August 2016). "Kadiza Sultana: London schoolgirl who joined Isis believed killed in Syria airstrike". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2019-02-14. Retrieved 12 August 2016.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  17. Veselinovic, Milena; McKenzie, Sheena (14 August 2016). "Family fears British girl who went to Syria is dead". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2019-07-01. Retrieved 12 August 2016.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  18. Dearden, Lizzie (14 August 2016). "Isis jihadi bride Kadiza Sultana 'abandoned efforts to escape Syria after Austrian girl beaten to death'". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2018-07-01. Retrieved 13 August 2016.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  19. "Families fear Bethnal Green schoolgirls who travelled to join Isis are now dead". OPride.com. 4 December 2017. Archived from the original on 2018-12-30. Retrieved 1 July 2018.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  20. Loyd, Anthony (13 February 2019). "Shamima Begum: Bring me home, says Bethnal Green girl who fled to join Isis". The Times. TheTimes.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2019-02-15. Retrieved 13 February 2019.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  21. "Shamima Begum: Ex-Bethnal Green schoolgirl who joined IS 'wants to come home'". BBC News. 2019-02-13. Archived from the original on 2019-02-14. Retrieved 2019-02-16.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  22. "IS teenage bride Shamima Begum gives birth to boy". BBC News. BBC. 17 February 2019. Archived from the original on 17 February 2019. Retrieved 17 February 2019.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  23. "Shamima Begum: 'I didn't want to be IS poster girl'". BBC News. 18 February 2019. Retrieved 18 February 2019.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  24. "Shamima Begum: IS teenager to lose UK citizenship". BBC. 19 February 2019. Retrieved 19 February 2019.Page Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css must have content model "Sanitized CSS" for TemplateStyles (current model is "plain text").
  25. "Shamima Begum case: I have one citizenship, says IS bride"
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