A westernised 25-year-old mother is the latest Brit to head to Syria. Tareena Shakil, a fan of The Only Way is Essex, who grew up embracing western values, crossed into the country with her 14-month-old son on Monday, after being radicalised in just four months, The Sun has reported. She told her family that she was taking her son on holiday to Spain.
Divorced mum Tareena hid her radicalism from her family by setting up a Facebook profile under the name Tameena al Amirah in July, to which she posted pro-Islamic messages and images of ISIS fighters. She described herself on the page as a “slave of Allah”, and earlier this month posted a picture of the black flag of ISIS.
Her parents were left completely in the dark as she continued to enjoy Western entertainments like hit TV show The Only Way Is Essex, and embrace western fashions. Her father Mohammed told the Sun “I’d no idea. My little grandson shouldn’t be going through this.”
Last week Tareena packed her bags and left with her son Zaheem, telling her family that she was taking him on holiday to Spain. Instead she boarded a plane for Turkey, and from there headed across the border into Syria.
“There was no reason to suspect,” said Mohammed. “She left wearing jeans and a top she bought in a shop owned by one of the TOWIE stars in Brentwood. She was not even wearing a headscarf.”
He told the Sun that Tareena was a grade-A student and school prefect, who held a degree in Psychology. She grew up listening to western music like the Spice Girls, enjoyed drama and was in the Guides.
Since arriving in Syria Tareena has contacted her family: father Mohammed, mum Amanda, brother Nazeem, 12 and sister Ameena, 10, to tell them that she and Zaheem are in Raqqa, the so-called ‘Capital’ of the Islamic State. An online message to her family read “So many people died coming. They got shot at the border. But we made it. We ran across the border in the blazing sun”. Another in which she asked her mother not to cry, read “I can’t come back there now. We can’t. Tell her not to cry. Read the quran I love you mummy!”
Her departure comes just days after the death of Muhammad Mehdi Hassan, a 19 year old from Portsmouth, was confirmed. Hassan had travelled to Syria last October with four friends, who together called themselves the Britani Brigade Bangladeshi Bad Boys. Of the five, three have now been killed, one is in a UK prison having been convicted of terrorism, and one is still fighting in Syria.
Hassan’s uncle Muslim Khan criticised the government for making it difficult for those fighting in Syria to return to the UK, the Mail has reported.
Yesterday, Hassan’s mother told ITV news “Something must have really … their hearts melted when they saw what’s happening in Syria.
“They are impressionable boys and they are so naive they didn’t think in balanced way about implication on life.”