Aqsa Mahmood: Parents of 'bedroom radical' fighting in Syria plead for return of daughter
Aqsa Mahmood is described as ‘sweet, peaceful, intelligent girl’ who has ‘betrayed’ family through her radicalisation
Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith is a freelance reporter. She was nominated for business journalist of the year at the Press Gazette British Journalism Awards 2012 and her name is so long that she has a double-decker byline in print.
Thursday 04 September 2014
The parents of Aqsa Mahmood, the 20-year-old woman from Glasgow who fled her home to join jihadist fighters in Syria, have pleaded for her to come home.
In an emotional address, in which the family’s solicitor delivered a statement on behalf of parents Muzaffar and Khalida Mahmood who appeared upset to speak themselves, their daughter was told that her parents still love her, but that she had betrayed their family with her actions.
Mahmood’s parents said: “We still love you, Aqsa, but we now have to put your family, your brother and sisters first as you have betrayed us, our community and the people of Scotland when you took this step.
“You have torn the heart out of our family and changed our lives forever. Please come home.”
Aqsa Mahmood was discovered to have entered Syria through Turkey, and has since married an Isis fighter Mahmood was described as a “sweet, peaceful, intelligent girl,” who was privately educated and had spoken of plans to become a pharmacist after leaving university, but she disappeared in November 2013 after becoming increasingly radicalised as the crisis in the Middle East intensified.
After becoming increasingly vocal in her support for terrorist acts in posts on Twitter, under the account name Umm Layth, Mahmood left her home, which her family then reported to police.
Her messages on Twitter had encouraged British Muslims to join Isis, calling for terrorist attacks on the UK and advising people to follow the example of "brothers from Woolwich, Texas and Boston". Her account has since been deleted.
Through social media it was discovered that Mahmood had travelled to Aleppo in Syria via the Turkish border, and in February it was learned that she had married an Isis fighter.
“Our daughter is brainwashed and deluded and helping those engaged in genocide,” her parents said.
“She may believe that the jihadists of Isis are her new family but they are not and are simply using her.
“If our daughter, who had all the chances and freedom in life, could become a bedroom radical, then it is possible for this to happen to any family,” they warned.
Mahmood’s parents said they gave her “everything possible” in terms of love, freedom and education, but “she chose the path which we could never approve of”.
They claimed that there is no smoking gun, no family member or fundamentalist preacher that can be blamed for their daughter’s radicalisation, instead stating that, like “many young people in our community”, she was “naturally angry and frustrated at the loss of innocent life in the Middle East,” but added that “this is not the way to help”.
Outlining concerns that there is a “growing climate of fear in this country”, Mahmood’s parents said they are worried that children will not discuss how they feel with their family and friends, which will “only spell disaster” for society.
“We know that in the days and months ahead we will be scouring social media for clues of whether our daughter is still alive. As we try to hold back the tears today, we feel we have lost our child,” they said.
Muzaffar and Khalida Mahmood had reportedly been keeping in touch with their daughter through social media, but this contact is understood to have been broken since their appeal. Their solicitor said the Mahmoods are hoping their plea will make their daughter “think again” and come home.
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