According to The Daily Mail, over eight British schoolgirls have traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) on the “jihadi bride trail.”
Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Amira Abase, 15, all from the Bethnal Green Academy in London, flew to Turkey in early February, which provides numerous routes to Syria. Media outlets have documented routes from Turkey to Syria since the civil war broke out in 2011. At least one other unnamed girl from the school fled to Turkey in December. These young girls join 16-year-old twins Salma and Zahra Halane from Manchester, Yusra Hussien, 15, from Bristol, and Samya Dirie, 17, from London. Officials blame radical websites, such as Jihad Matchmaker, for radicalizing young girls.
Aqsa Mahmood, from Scotland, crossed into Syria from Turkey in November 2013. She was only 19 at the time. Now she uses Twitter to lure young women like the three girls from the academy to become jihadi brides. She posts pictures of herself on Twitter with weapons and executions. Twitter suspended her latest account, but The Independent reports Mahmood wrote a blog post a few weeks ago that warned “would-be jihadi brides to prepare to be widows.” From The Evening Standard:
Writing under the name Umm Layth, Mahmood — who is believed to be a member of the all-women militia group in Raqqa, the Al-Khanssaa brigade — told would-be wives of terrorists: “Sisters with this comes the great acceptance and hefty reality which is that this decision means we will most probably have to sooner or later hear the news of our husbands’ success, which is his shahadah [martyrdom].
“So maybe even before his death you have spent time preparing for it emotionally, but unfortunately many are not educated on what comes next.”
The relationship between the Islamic State and social media is not new. In September, Mia Bloom from the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies at the University of Massachusetts Lowell claimed the jihadists lure the women “in order to be baby factories.” Other women openly volunteer to engage in jihad al-nikah, or sexual jihad, with the Islamic State fighters. The terrorist group also opened a marriage center in Syria where women can register to become a wife for a jihadist.
Breitbart News exposed women in the Islamic State who use social media to paint a pretty picture of life with terrorist husbands. The women show a united and happy front with their “sisters” and answer questions from Western women. The majority of them use Umm, which means mother in Arabic, in their Twitter handle. Many of the accounts have since been deleted, however.