Bethnal Green trio
Amira Abase, Shamima Begum, and Kadiza Sultana (also referred to as Bethnal Green trio) are three British women who previously attended the Bethnal Green Academy in London before leaving home in February 2015 to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). According to the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, they were amongst an estimated 550 women and girls from Western countries who had travelled to join ISIL—part of what some have called "a jihadi, girl-power subculture".
On 17 February 2015, Abase, Begum and Sultana flew via Turkish Airlines from Gatwick Airport in West Sussex to Istanbul. Their families went to Turkey in March to probe the disappearance, deeming the police investigation inadequate.
Their disappearance has been attributed to Aqsa Mahmood, a woman from Glasgow who joined ISIL in 2013. There have been electronic communications between the girls and Mahmood. Mahmood faces criminal charges if she returns. Mahmood denies the allegations.
In March 2015, footage was circulated of Abase Hussen, father of Amira Abase, at a 2012 rally led by Islamist preacher Anjem Choudary against the film Innocence of Muslims. The Metropolitan Police examined the footage but said that it was unlikely that offences had been committed. Hussen said in April that he feels ashamed of his involvement in the rally, as he did not know who had organised it.
The girls stole family jewellery to pay for their flight. At a 2015 Home Affairs Select Committee, then Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe stated that they would not face criminal charges if they returned to the United Kingdom.
The disappearance resulted in the Metropolitan Police giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons on its circumstances in March 2015. The families of the girls received an apology from Scotland Yard, who did not tell them about Sharmeena Begum, the other girl from their school who went to Syria in 2014.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has said that police should not be made "scapegoats" for people joining ISIL. Contrary to the stance of the Metropolitan Police, Cameron said, "Whoever has gone out to join a terrorist organisation is breaking the law and has to face the consequences of breaking the law and we have to let the law take its course in the proper way".
In March 2015, a travel ban was imposed upon five girls from the Bethnal Green Academy due to concerns from social services that the girls attend the same school as the three who had already joined the group, stating that it was in the public interest.
Later on, Shamima Begum was reported to have married an American jihadist recruit who left her once she became pregnant.[inconsistent] Sultana was said to have married a western ISIL fighter with Somali heritage, but wanted to return to the UK after he was killed in battle. Shortly afterwards Sultana was killed in a Russian airstrike. Sultana's family in a phone interview with ITV in August 2016 said that they believed her to have died in an airstrike in May 2016 at the age of 17 while planning to escape. The lawyer who represents the family of the teenagers, Tasnime Akunjee, told ITV that she became too scared of making an escape attempt after another girl Samra Kesinovic was beaten to death for trying to escape. Abase married an 18-year-old Australian jihadist, Abdullah Elmir in July 2016 who was reported by Australian intelligence agencies to have been killed in coalition airstrikes. After the teenagers married foreign jihadists, they moved into the homes of their new husbands in ISIL's de facto capital of Raqqa.
In February 2019, The Times journalist Anthony Loyd found Begum in a Syrian refugee camp. When interviewed, Begum revealed that she was pregnant and hoped to return to the UK to raise her child, but did not regret her decision to join ISIL. In the debate that followed, the UK Home Office announced it would revoke her UK citizenship, while Bangladesh did not recognise her as a citizen.
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