A senior female Islamic State commander who left the terror group has claimed it has a specialised social media grooming unit, where fighters work in shifts to radicalise vulnerable young people online.
The woman, known as Um Asmah, was also the first person to have contact with British schoolgirls Shamima Begum, Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase after they crossed the border into Syria.
Speaking to Sky News, she said the girls appeared very naïve upon their arrival in Islamic State territory, with one revealing her face before being reprimanded for her immodest behaviour. Um Asmah delivered the girls to a base in Raqqa, the de facto IS capital, where they are undergoing training for “special missions”.
Although those particular girls are likely to “die in Iraq and Syria”, she said other fighters were being trained to travel back to Europe and carry out attacks there.
She also said that the girls were likely groomed by a specialist unit who focus on young vulnerable Westerners. Um Asmah said:
“IS is not stupid, they have educated people who know how to deal with (the) psychology of others, how to deal with the human being. All these are in IS.
“They have ways to attract people – especially foreigners. Otherwise young British people wouldn’t come and say they will change the flag on Buckingham Palace.
“IS have the ability to manipulate the minds of young people. If they can convince foreigners, it is even easier to convince Arabs and Syrians.
“They have freedom and everything is available – they have no need to come to Syria but they do.”
Um Asmah has now fled the terror group and is in hiding in Turkey. She lives in fear of Islamic State tracking her down, saying she is “a traitor, an unbeliever now. I am scared every day, every minute and of everyone I meet.”
“I am a young girl. I want to live my life, I want to travel, go to cafes, meet friends like any normal girl,” she said.