Isis: British women led by Aqsa Mahmood 'running sharia police unit for Islamic State in Syria'

The al-Khansaa brigade reportedly upholds the strict religious rules implemented by the Islamic State (Isis) in the city of Raqqa

Natasha Culzac
Monday 08 September 2014 12:05
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Glaswegian Aqsa Mahmood, 20, is believed to one of the women in an all-female brigade
Glaswegian Aqsa Mahmood, 20, is believed to one of the women in an all-female brigade

As many as 60 British women have joined an all-female sharia police unit for the Islamic State (Isis), reprimanding those who fall foul of the jihad’s strict rules.

The al-Khansaa brigade is believed to be operating in the Syrian city of Raqqa, which is controlled by Isis militants and works as their Syrian headquarters.

According to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), the militia group was established earlier this year to help expose male activists who attempt to disguise themselves in women’s clothing to avoid detention.

A prominent figure in the police force, according to the UK-based International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR), is Aqsa Mahmood, a privately-educated Glaswegian 20-year-old who fled to Syria last November.

Most of the British women who have travelled to the war torn region to fight, are between the ages of 18 and 24, the Daily Telegraph reports, a further three of whom are believed to have joined the military unit.

The ICSR says it monitors 25 British female jihadists who have left their lives in the UK to support Isis.

The brigade's women are reportedly paid a monthly salary of 25,000 Syrian Pounds (roughly £100), says TRAC, for duties that are not involved with acts of terror – instead insurgency operations.

They are not the only all-female brigade, either, with another – Umm Al-Rayan – also created around the same time.

Security services believe that it is likely that the women will know the true identity of ‘Jihadi John’, the Isis fighter believed to be the person responsible for the beheading of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

According to Syria Deeply, the al-Khansaa brigade has also been tasked with cracking down on civilian women who fail to abide by the ultra-strict brand of sharia law implemented by Isis, including that women be fully covered in public and be chaperoned by a male.

An Isis official in Raqqa reportedly said: “We have established the brigade to raise awareness of our religion among women, and to punish women who do not abide by the law.

“There are only women in this brigade, and we have given them their own facilities to prevent the mixture of men and women.”

“Our daughter is brainwashed and deluded and helping those engaged in genocide,” her parents said.

Melanie Smith, a research associate at ICSR, said: “The British women are some of the most zealous in imposing the IS [Islamic State] laws in the region. I believe that’s why at least four of them have been chosen to join the women police force.”

The identities of the other three women are current unknown, however a small contingent of female Britons have flown over to the region to fight in some capacity.

Twin 16-year-old sisters Zahra and Salma Halane left their Manchester home on 26 June to join the conflict - it is believed they married Isis militants, with terrorist chiefs investigating whether the men paid for their travel.

Muslim convert Sally Jones, a mother of two from Kent, is also believed to have fled to Isis from her life in the UK after meeting a computer hacker turned jihadi online and later marrying him.

A Syrian airstrike targeting an Isis stronghold in Raqqa killed at least 25 people on Saturday – most of whom were civilians, with nine Isis fighters dead. Activists say the missile hit a crowded bakery.

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