Three London girls have crossed the border into Syria. They were last seen flying into Turkey and are believed to have been smuggled into Syria from there. The teens flew from Gatwick Airport in London to Istanbul, Turkey after telling their parents they were going out for the day.
Shamima Begum, Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana left home on Tuesday and have not been seen since, except for on an airport security camera. Begum is believed to be traveling on her 17-year old sister, Aklima’s passport. The three London girls, students at Bethnal Green Academy with good grades, were on a midterm break. When questioned about the disappearance of another school mate who vanished in December, the three London girls were not considered flight risks. Despite the disappearance of four of their school students, Bethnal administration claims that the students at the school are not being “radicalized.” They can not even access Twitter or Facebook on Academy computers. Parents have made impassioned pleas that the three London girls return home. They insist that their children are good girls and do not understand how they got caught up with ISIS.
Begum’s sister, Renu, hopes that the three London girls who crossed the border into Syria did so to help recover their Bethnal classmate who disappeared in December. Officials believe that all of the disappearances are related. Amira’s father, Hussen, states that there was nothing suspicious about his daughter’s departure for school on the morning of her disappearance. In a CNN interview, he is seen clutching a teddy bear and saying that Amira did her schoolwork and had shown no interest in Syria or politics. She sent him a text message at 11 o’clock that evening claiming that the spot she was visiting was far away, but that she had done her evening prayers. The next day she did not come home.
Officials believe the three London girls were recruited to join ISIS by Scotch resident Aqsa Mahmood, herself a “jihadi bride” who traveled to Syria to marry an ISIS fighter. Officials believe Mahmood used her Twitter account to encourage acts of violence in the name of ISIS. They also believe she used her account to encourage the three London girls to run away to Syria. The airport in London is in trouble for allowing the three London girls to fly alone. Additionally, security officials are being criticized because Begum sent Twitter messages to Mahmood and should have been able to stop the three London girls from ever running away. Mahmood’s own family has nothing but condemnation for her, saying they are “full of anger” that their daughter may have had a part in the disappearance of the three London girls. Mahmood did not attend Bethnal Green Academy, and was privately tutored. She graduated high school and then married the ISIS fighter in 2013.
Although no one is sure about the fate of the three London girls who crossed the border into Syria, the plight of other women captured by ISIS is not always pleasant. One young woman recounted the horrors of her imprisonment to BBC’s Paul Wood. He tells the plight of “Hanna”, who was treated as a sex slave and escaped through a window in a staging room in Raqqa. She escaped while nearly 200 other young ladies did not.
By Danielle Branch