Bethnal Green trio

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Amira Abase, Shamima Begum, and Kadiza Sultana (also referred to as Bethnal Green trio[1]) 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[2]—part of what some[3] have called "a jihadi, girl-power subculture".[4]

Background[edit]

Main entrance of Mulberry Academy Shoreditch, formerly known as Bethnal Green Academy

On 17 February 2015, Abase, Begum and Sultana flew via Turkish Airlines from Gatwick Airport in West Sussex to Istanbul.[5] Their families went to Turkey in March to probe the disappearance, deeming the police investigation inadequate.[5][6]

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.[5] Mahmood faces criminal charges if she returns.[7] Mahmood denies the allegations.[8]

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.[9] Hussen said in April that he feels ashamed of his involvement in the rally, as he did not know who had organised it.[10]

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.[11]

Aftermath[edit]

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.[11] 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.[12]

British Prime Minister David Cameron has said that people should not be made "scapegoats" for joining ISIL.[13] 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".[14]

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.[15]

Later on, Shamima Begum was reported to have married an American jihadist recruit who left her once she became pregnant.[inconsistent][16] 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.[16] 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.[17][18] 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.[19] 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.[20]

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.[21][22]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Defence Correspondent, Lucy Fisher (13 February 2019). "Bethnal Green trio fled Britain with help from Isis's best female recruiter". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  2. ^ Saltman, Erin Marie; Smith, Melanie (2015). 'Till Martyrdom Do Us Part' Gender and the ISIS Phenomenon (PDF). Institute for Strategic Dialogue. p. 4. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 March 2016. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  3. ^ Thomas Hegghammer, an expert on Islamist militancy affiliated with the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (source: GILSINAN, KATHY (25 July 2014). "The ISIS Crackdown on Women, by Women". The Atlantic. Retrieved 25 February 2016.)
  4. ^ GILSINAN, KATHY (25 July 2014). "The ISIS Crackdown on Women, by Women". The Atlantic. Archived from the original on 28 January 2019. Retrieved 25 February 2016.
  5. ^ a b c "Syria girls: Families 'cannot stop crying'". BBC News. 22 February 2015. Archived from the original on 24 October 2018. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  6. ^ "Isil defector girls' families go to Turkey to probe disappearance". The Daily Telegraph. 23 March 2015. Archived from the original on 3 July 2018. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  7. ^ "Scots jihadi will be prosecuted if she comes home, say police". stv.tv. 10 March 2015. Archived from the original on 1 July 2018. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  8. ^ Cook, James (16 March 2015). "Glasgow 'jihadist' Aqsa Mahmood denies recruiting London girls". BBC News. Archived from the original on 29 October 2018. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  9. ^ Morgan, Ben (27 March 2015). "Jihadi schoolgirl's father marched at flag-burning rally". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 29 August 2018. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  10. ^ "Father of schoolgirl feared to have joined Islamic State denies 'extremism' claim". ITV News. 7 April 2015. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  11. ^ a b Barrett, David (10 March 2015). "Three 'Jihadi brides' from London who travelled to Syria will not face terrorism charges if they return". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 15 February 2019. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  12. ^ Morris, Nigel (12 March 2015). "Police sorry for failure to warn families of Isis girls about schoolfriend's flight". The New Zealand Herald. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  13. ^ "Leaders: Vigilance crucial or more will be lost to IS". The Scotsman. 10 March 2015. Archived from the original on 1 July 2018. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  14. ^ Beake, Nick (31 March 2015). "David Cameron concerned over Syria-bound London girls". BBC News. Archived from the original on 26 January 2019. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  15. ^ Bowcott, Owen (27 March 2015). "Travel ban for five east London girls over fears they will join Isis in Syria". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 20 June 2018. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  16. ^ a b De Peyer, Robin (6 August 2017). "Families fear Bethnal Green schoolgirls who travelled to join Isis are now dead". London Evening Standard. London. Archived from the original on 1 July 2018. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  17. ^ Henley, Jon; Dodd, Vikram (12 August 2016). "Kadiza Sultana: London schoolgirl who joined Isis believed killed in Syria airstrike". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 14 February 2019. Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  18. ^ Veselinovic, Milena; McKenzie, Sheena (14 August 2016). "Family fears British girl who went to Syria is dead". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 1 July 2019. Retrieved 12 August 2016.
  19. ^ Dearden, Lizzie (14 August 2016). "Isis jihadi bride Kadiza Sultana 'abandoned efforts to escape Syria after Austrian girl beaten to death'". The Independent. Archived from the original on 1 July 2018. Retrieved 13 August 2016.
  20. ^ "Families fear Bethnal Green schoolgirls who travelled to join Isis are now dead". OPride.com. 4 December 2017. Archived from the original on 30 December 2018. Retrieved 1 July 2018. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  21. ^ "Shamima Begum will not be allowed here, Bangladesh says". BBC. 20 February 2019. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  22. ^ "Shamima Begum discovers citizenship has been revoked". NewsComAu. 20 February 2019. Retrieved 21 February 2019.

External links[edit]