Isis supporters 'offering cash to British girls as young as 14 to become jihadi brides in Syria'

Facilitators are reportedly grooming girls and helping them leave the UK

Lizzie Dearden
Friday 19 December 2014 09:57 GMT
Aqsa Mahmood and another woman in Syria in a picture tweeted in 2014.
Aqsa Mahmood and another woman in Syria in a picture tweeted in 2014.

Girls as young as 14 are reportedly being offered cash to become jihadi brides for Isis fighters after being groomed online by extremists.

“Facilitators” based in London help the teenagers apply for passport and sometimes even shepherd them to the terrorist group’s strongholds in Syria, the Evening Standard reported.

Haras Rafiq, an expert at counter-terrorism think-tank the Quilliam Foundation, told the newspaper the average age of “brides” is falling and some are as young as 14.

“There are people here who have facilitated passports,” he added.

“Girls who are under a certain age are being accompanied by an adult over 18, usually a woman, to go help them. Help them apply for a passport, and even take them out there.”

Undated handout photo issued by Aamer Anwar & Co Solicitors of Aqsa Mahmood, 20, (left) at a family wedding,

The news comes after police stopped a plane taking off at Heathrow Airport to prevent a 15-year-old girl travelling to join Isis in Syria earlier this month.

She was taken back home to her family but another teenage girl reportedly got away.

Dozens of young women are believed to be among more than 500 British people who have travelled to join Isis in Iraq and Syria.

Some are reportedly running “Sharia police” units for Isis to implement its draconian ideology, while marrying and having children with fighters to populate its so-called Islamic State.

One prominent member is Aqsa Mahmood, a privately-educated Glaswegian 20-year-old who fled to Syria last November. Another woman, calling herself Khadijah Dare, appeared in a television documentary showing her life married to an Isis fighter.

Khadijah Dare and her husband, Abu Bakr, in a Channel 4 documentary

Other female jihadists, such as one who goes by the name Al Britaniyyaa, record their experiences on Twitter and encourage other girls to join them.

Ruth Manning, a Quilliam Foundation volunteer, wrote on the think-tank’s website that accounts like hers aim to entice other recruits, tweeting images of sunsets and Starbucks Frappuccinos to present a positive picture of life under Isis.

“Ultimately this network is being used as a recruitment tool to encourage women to join Islamic State,” Ms Manning wrote.

“Tweeting images of kittens and coffee make extremism appear as a normal lifestyle decision for many disaffected Muslims. Moreover, positive interactions between network users generate a sense of sisterhood among the female jihadists, which seeks to embolden disillusioned Muslims to come and live under Isis rule.”

Sabina Selimovic, 15, (left) and Samra Kesinovic, 17, left their homes in Austria to become 'jihadi brides' with Isis

Other girls claiming to be with Isis in Syria chronicle daily tasks, including school work and cooking, while still following Justin Bieber and other celebrity accounts like a normal teenager.

Ms Manning suggested that many girls are drawn to the cause by the prospect of an easy life staying at home, alongside a feeling of empowerment and freedom from their parents, and the search for belonging.

“Perhaps the absence of strong relationships offline has pushed them towards virtual communities,” she wrote, urging communities and families to foster better support networks.

The Government has brought in passport bans on suspected extremists as part of a package of counter-terrorism measures aimed at stopping Brits travelling to join Isis.

It is also funding several anti-extremism programmes working with young people to prevent them being drawn to Islamic fundamentalism.

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