Brides of ISIL

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Beginning in 2012, hundreds of girls and women traveled to Iraq and Syria to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), becoming brides of ISIL fighters. While some traveled willingly, others were brought to Iraq and Syria as minors by their parents or family.[1][2]

Some of those women subsequently acquired high public profiles, either through their efforts to recruit more volunteers, when they died, or because they recanted and wished to return to their home countries. Commentators have noted that it will be hard to differentiate between the women who played an active role in atrocities and those who were stay-at-home housewives.[3]

Women who voluntarily traveled to Daesh territory and subsequently became prominent
Name Birth
year
Date of
volunteering
Date of
defection
Home
country
Notes
Emilie Konig 1984 2012 France
  • Was the subject of a 2012 documentary.[4]
Aqsa Mahmood 2013 United Kingdom
Daniela Greene 1980 2014 2014 United States
  • Greene, a contract linguist with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had been assigned to communicate with Denis Cuspert, a German ISIL recruiter, as part of a covert investigation of his activities.[7][8][9][10] During these conversations, Greene fell in love with Cuspert and travelled to occupied Syria to marry him.[9][11] Disenchanted within weeks, Greene deserted both husband and Daesh. Upon return to the United States, she was charged with lying to the FBI, later serving a two-year sentence.
Shima Essanoor 1992 2014 2018 United Kingdom
Hoda Muthana 1994 2014 United States
  • Started making inflammatory tweets after her first husband was killed in action.[13]
Salma Halane 1998 2014 United Kingdom
  • Twin sister of Zahra Halane, active in recruiting more volunteers after her arrival in Daesh territory.[14]
Zahra Halane 1998 2014 United Kingdom
  • Twin sister of Salma Halane, active in recruiting more volunteers after her arrival in Daesh territory.[14]
Tara Nettleton 1983 2013 Australia
  • Was able to travel to Daesh territory with her husband, Khaled Sharrouf, even though his passport had been cancelled due to an earlier conviction for terrorism.[14] The couple brought their children with them. Nettleton died in 2015 from appendicitis. Sharrouf and two of their five children died from the same drone attack in 2017.
Zaynab Sharrouf 2001 2013 Australia
  • Brought to Daesh territory by her parents Tara Nettleton and Khaled Sharrouf at the age of thirteen,[14] at which age she was married to Mohammed Elomar, a jihadi fighter and her father's best friend.[15] On June 24, 2019, it was reported she had been repatriated to Australia, also rescued with her two children, age 2 and 3.[16]
Zehra Duman 1993 2014 Australia
  • Served as a recruiter following her arrival in Daesh territory.[14]
Shams 2015 Malaysia
  • Shams is a medical doctor.[14]
Kimberly Gwen Polman Canada-United States
  • Describes first trying to defect after being in Daesh for a year, only to be captured, imprisoned, tortured, and raped.[17]
Reema Iqbal 1990 2013 United Kingdom
  • "The security services came to speak to me and I was honest, I told them my whole story so now it's up to them to judge."[2]
  • Stripped of UK citizenship in early March, 2019.[18][19][20][21][22]
Zara Iqbal 1992 2013 United Kingdom
Natalie Bracht 2013 United Kingdom
  • Reported to have been an associate of Zara Iqbal, Reema Iqbal, Ruzina Khanam, and Maylbongwe Sibanda.[21]
Ruzina Khanam 2013 United Kingdom
  • Reported to have been an associate of Zara Iqbal, Reema Iqbal, Natalie Bracht, and Maylbongwe Sibanda.[21]
Maylbongwe Sibanda 2013 United Kingdom
  • Reported to have been an associate of Zara Iqbal, Reema Iqbal, Natalie Bracht, and Ruzina Khanam.[21]
Hayat Boumeddiene 1988 2015 France
  • May have been killed in Syria, early in 2019.[23]
Shamima Begum 2001 2015 United Kingdom
  • One of four young women from her high school to volunteer.[24]
Amira Abase 2001 2015 United Kingdom
  • In February 2019 she was described as "missing".[25]
Kadiza Sultana 2000 2015 United Kingdom
Nassima Begum 2012 United Kingdom
  • Said she had no choice when her husband moved their family to Syria in 2012.[26]
Sharmeena Begum 1999 2014 United Kingdom
  • In February 2019 she was described as "missing".[25]
Sally Jones 1968 2013 2017 United Kingdom
  • "Reportedly placed on a special-forces 'kill list' after threatening Queen Elizabeth II".[27]
  • Reported to be trying to return to Britain in April, 2017.[28]
  • Reported killed later in 2017.
Fatiha Mejjati 1961 2014 Morocco
  • Commanded "the Islamic State's Al-Khansaa Brigade, an all-female detachment that polices the group's strictures against wearing makeup or showing bare skin."
Linda Wenzel 2001 2016 2017 Germany
"ISIL wife Sanna" 1972 2014–2015 Finland
  • A Finnish woman, called "ISIL wife Sanna" (Finnish: Isis-vaimo Sanna) by Finnish media, emigrated from Kotka, Finland, to an ISIL-controlled area in Syria with her Moroccan husband. She had converted to Islam in 2004–2005, and she is accompanied by her four underage children, of whom the eldest, a daughter born in 2005–2006, was married in Syria. During the fall of ISIL in 2019, Sanna was interviewed by CNN near the Iraqi border in eastern Syria. As of 6 March 2019, she was in a refugee camp and wanted to return to Finland. After the interview was published on 6 March 2019, Sanna's story was widely covered by Finnish media, starting a public discussion in Finland on possible return of Finnish citizens who emigrated to the ISIL war zone in Iraq and Syria. According to the Finnish Security Intelligence Service, some 80 identified Finnish citizens (of whom, about 20 are women and around 30 are children) have travelled to the area; about 20 of them have died and around 20 have returned.[29][30][31]
Shayma Assaad 2019 Australia
Kirsty Rosse-Emile 1995 2014 2019 Australia
Janai Safar 1996 2015 2017 Australia
  • Unlike many other Brides, Safar does not want to be repatriated.[34]
  • Has denied that her husband was a senior Daesh official.[citation needed]
Aylam 2015 2017 Australia
Lisa Smith Ireland
  • Formerly a soldier in the Irish army.[citation needed]
  • Irish security officials believe she was not an active member of Daesh and was no more than a sympathizer.[35]
Dullel Kassab 2014 Australia
  • Her father says she only travelled to Daesh-occupied Syria to find out what happened to her late husband.[36] Her family claims that once she arrived in Daesh territory she was forced into marriage with a jihadi fighter.
  • Once married to a jihadi fighter, she made social media posts that seemed to support the Daesh regime.[37]
  • She has criticied Daesh's inability to provide health care, including pre-natal and obstetrics care.[38]
Lenora Lemke 2000 2016 2019 Germany
  • Bore two children in Syria and believed that she would be repatriated to Germany.[39]
Nûh Suwaidi 1995 Germany
  • Moved to ISIS territory with her husband, and bore three children there.[40]
  • Claims her husband made all their decisions, and did not know where they were living.[40]
Nora Camali [[

Shannon Maureen Conley and Jaelyn Delshaun Young were American women who were apprehended when they tried to travel to ISIL-occupied territory.[41] Minnesotan Tnuza Jamal Hassan was prevented from traveling to Afghanistan.[42]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Vikram Dodd and Esther Addley (15 February 2019). "Shamima Begum may have criminalised herself, says senior terrorism officer: Family calls for her return to UK and considers legal action to stop government blocking it". The Guardian (UK). Archived from the original on 15 February 2019. In 2015, Begum left with two school friends from their home in Bethnal Green to join Isis in Syria. She said this week that she did not regret her decision to go to Syria, but that she was nine months pregnant and wanted to come home to 'live quietly with [her] child'.
  2. ^ a b c "IS teen's wish to return stirs UK debate over jihadi brides". France 24. London. 15 February 2019. Archived from the original on 15 February 2019. The Times newspaper managed to find an unrepentant Begum -- now 19 and about to give birth for the third time after seeing her first two children die -- at a refugee camp in eastern Syria.
  3. ^ Nabih Bulos (18 March 2019). "Were the brides of Islamic State cloistered housewives or participants in atrocities?". Hagerstown Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 20 March 2019. Retrieved 19 March 2019. Investigators looking for clues to the individual actions of each woman, away from social media, will have a difficult time gathering evidence admissible in a court of law.
  4. ^ Alissa J. Rubin (11 January 2018). "She Left France to Fight in Syria. Now She Wants to Return. But Can She?". New York Times. Paris, France. Archived from the original on 3 May 2019. Retrieved 11 January 2018. A woman who left France and became a prominent propagandist and recruiter for the Islamic State has asked her family, friends and country for a pardon.
  5. ^ "Syria girls: Families 'cannot stop crying'". BBC News. 22 February 2015. Archived from the original on 23 October 2018. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  6. ^ James Cook (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.
  7. ^ Scott Glover (1 May 2017). "The FBI translator who went rogue and married an ISIS terrorist". CNN. Archived from the original on 26 April 2019. Retrieved 26 April 2019. Greene's saga, which has never been publicized, exposes an embarrassing breach of national security at the FBI—an agency that has made its mission rooting out ISIS sympathizers across the country.
  8. ^ Nicole Morley (2 May 2017). "FBI translator falls in love with Isis terrorist she was assigned to investigate". Metro (UK). Archived from the original on 26 April 2019. Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  9. ^ a b Tresa Baldas (2 May 2017). "FBI translator secretly married Islamic State leader". USA Today. Detroit. Archived from the original on 26 April 2019. Retrieved 26 April 2019. On June 11, 2014, Greene told an FBI supervisor in Indianapolis that she was traveling to Germany to see her family. She filled out the required form and listed “vacation/personal” as the reason for going. Her declared return date: July 4, 2014.
  10. ^ Kirstan Conley, Gabrielle Fonrouge, Bruce Golding (3 May 2017). "FBI translator who married ISIS terrorist refuses to talk about tryst". New York Post. Archived from the original on 26 April 2019. Retrieved 26 April 2019. On Monday, Greene was revealed to have spent two years in the slammer for lying about a 2014 trip she took to Syria, where she hooked up with notorious German rapper-turned-ISIS recruiter Denis “Deso Dogg” Cuspert.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  11. ^ Tresa Baldas (2 May 2017). "FBI translator in Detroit secretly married ISIS leader". Detroit Free Press. Archived from the original on 26 April 2019. Retrieved 26 April 2019. Amid the investigation, court records show, Greene fell in love with Cuspert, sneaked off to Syria in the summer of 2014, married him and warned him that “the FBI had an open investigation into his activities.” She quickly became disenchanted — e-mailing an unnamed person that she had "made a mess of things" — and somehow managed to escape Syria and get back to the U.S., where she was arrested.
  12. ^ "Ex-Wife of Former Jihadist Tells of Miraculous Escape from Terror Clutches". Al Bawaba. 26 November 2018. Archived from the original on 12 December 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2019. The daughter of Somali-born parents Shima Essanoor first became immersed in the dark world of radical Islam after she was introduced Ture through her best friend's husband. She first met best friend Reema Iqbal, 30, while studying for her A-levels at a sixth form college in east London and the friendship quickly progressed.
  13. ^ Martin Chulov, Bethan McKernan (17 February 2019). "Hoda Muthana 'deeply regrets' joining Isis and wants to return home". The Guardian. al-Hawl, Syria. Archived from the original on 5 April 2019. Retrieved 22 February 2019. For many months in 2015, her Twitter feed was full of bloodcurdling incitement, and she says she remained a zealot until the following year. She now says her account was taken over by others.
  14. ^ a b c d e f Erin Marie Saltman; Melanie Smith (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.
  15. ^ "Who are the Australian women travelling to Syria as brides of the Caliphate?". The News (au). 8 May 2016. Archived from the original on 22 February 2019. Retrieved 22 February 2019. Also from Melbourne, Zehra married a Melbourne man who was fighting for Islamic State, Mahmoud Abdullatif. He was killed in action just five weeks later.
  16. ^ Australian children of IS militants rescued from Syria camp, United Kingdom: BBC, 23 June 2019, retrieved 24 June 2019
  17. ^ Rukmini Callimachi, Catherine Porter (19 February 2019). "2 American Wives of ISIS Militants Want to Return Home". The New York Times. al Hawl Camp, Syria. p. A1. Archived from the original on 20 February 2019. Ms. Muthana and Ms. Polman acknowledged in the interview here that many Americans would question whether they deserved to be brought back home after joining one of the world’s deadliest terrorist groups.
  18. ^ a b "Pakistani-origin ISIS brides lose British citizenship: Report". Hindustan Times. 11 March 2019. Archived from the original on 8 April 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2019. Reema Iqbal and her sister, Zara, have five boys under the age of eight between them and are being held in a Syrian detention camp. Reports of them losing their right to return to the UK after losing their citizenship rights come as it was confirmed that Bangladeshi-origin Shamima Begum lost her three-week-old baby in a Syrian refugee camp days after her British citizenship was similarly revoked.
  19. ^ a b Basit Mahmood (10 March 2019). "Two British sisters who married Isis fighters 'also lose citizenship'". Metro (UK). Archived from the original on 8 April 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2019. According to The Sunday Times, sisters Reema Iqbal, 30, and Zara, 28, who have five boys between them all under the age of eight, had their UK nationality removed after marrying into a terror cell linked to the murder of western hostages.
  20. ^ a b "UK sisters who wed Isis fighters lose citizenship". London Times. 10 March 2019. Archived from the original on 30 March 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2019. Two more Isis brides from Britain held with their young children in squalid Syrian detention camps are believed to have been stripped of their citizenship amid a growing political row over the death of Shamima Begum’s three-week-old baby.
  21. ^ a b c d e Diue Huong (30 October 2018). ""Làn sóng" góa phụ IS từ Syria trở về Anh" [The IS "wave" of widows from Syria returned to England]. Soha.vn (in Vietnamese). Archived from the original on 8 April 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  22. ^ a b Emma Wills (10 March 2019). "ISIS brides: Two more mothers 'stripped of UK citizenship' as Shamima Begum row continues". Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 8 April 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2019. The paper quoted legal sources, naming the women as Reema Iqbal, 30, and her sister Zara, 28, whose parents are originally from Pakistan.
  23. ^ Sarah El Deeb (4 March 2019). "Prominent French jihadis killed in IS-held area in Syria". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 8 April 2019. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
  24. ^ Anthony Loyd (13 February 2019). "Shamima Begum: Bring me home, says Bethnal Green girl who left to join Isis". The Times. Al-Hawl, Syria. ISSN 0140-0460. Archived from the original on 14 February 2019. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  25. ^ a b Kelly McLaughlin (19 February 2019). "ISIS brides from Canada, the US, and Europe are asking to return home years after fleeing for Syria. Here are their stories". This is insider. Archived from the original on 27 February 2019. Retrieved 22 February 2019. Sultana is now believed to be dead, Sharmeena Begum and Abase are missing, Riedijk has turned himself in to authorities, and Shamima Begum is asking to return to London.
  26. ^ Josie Ensor (14 February 2019). "Dispatch: 'I am not one of them', says British woman begging to come home from Syria's 'Camp of Death'". The Telegraph (UK). Al Hawl, Syria. Archived from the original on 15 March 2019. Retrieved 25 February 2019. She claimed to have been a housewife, who 'couldn’t even point to Syria on a map' when the family moved here in 2012 - before Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s caliphate was declared two years later.
  27. ^ Paul Sperry (13 May 2017). "Meet the American women who are flocking to join ISIS". New York Post. Archived from the original on 22 February 2019. Retrieved 21 February 2019. Some of these ISIS brides living in Syria and Iraq have made the terrorist watchlist. Arguably the most dangerous is Sally Jones, 49, a British Muslim convert who goes by the nom de guerre Umm Hussain al-Britani. She is reportedly now on a British special-forces “kill list” after threatening Queen Elizabeth II.
  28. ^ "Top Daesh Recruiter of British Origin Desperate to Go Back Home © AP Photo / Amel Emric". Sputnick News. 7 April 2017. Archived from the original on 27 April 2019. Retrieved 26 April 2019. British national and former punk rock star Sally Jones who became one of the most notorious female recruitment officers for Daesh is said to be willing to "return home" to Britain, Sky News reported.
  29. ^ Timonen, Ilkka (6 March 2019). "CNN: Suomalainen Isis-vaimo Sanna haluaa palata kotimaahansa, mutta pelkää joutuvansa Suomessa vankilaan". Satakunnan Kansa (in Finnish). Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  30. ^ "Finnish woman wants to return from IS stronghold: International media". Yle. 6 March 2019. Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  31. ^ Ranta, Niko; Alenius, Jari (7 March 2019). ""Isis-vaimo" Sanna erosi aviomiehestään ennen lähtöään Syyriaan". Ilta-Sanomat (in Finnish). Archived from the original on 7 March 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  32. ^ a b David Wroe, Josh Dye, Erin Pearson (4 April 2019). "What should Australia do with the children of Islamic State?". Sydney Morning Herald. Al-Hawl refugee camp. Archived from the original on 8 April 2019. Retrieved 7 April 2019. Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age from al-Hawl camp, 16-year-old Hoda Sharrouf also says she forgives her father and mother, Tara Nettleton, for dragging her to Syria along with her four siblings when she was just 11 years old.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  33. ^ Ben Graham (5 April 2019). "Parents of pregnant Melbourne woman stuck in Syria plead for PM to let her come home". The News (Australia). Archived from the original on 5 April 2019. Retrieved 7 April 2019. Six months’ pregnant, Kirsty Rosse-Emile, 24, used to write about Justin Beiber, AFL scores and the soccer World Cup on her Facebook page before her posts suddenly changed about nine years ago.
  34. ^ Emma Reynolds (2 April 2019). "Camp of the cursed: Inside bleak village home of lost Islamic State brides". The News (Australia). Archived from the original on 9 April 2019. Retrieved 8 April 2019.
  35. ^ Tom Brady (10 March 2019). "Desperate mother Lisa Smith frantically tried to get cash to escape Isil Syria". Irish Independent. Retrieved 8 April 2019. As an Isil bride, officers consider Ms Smith to be a sympathiser rather than a fighter with Isil and this is expected to be taken into account when she is questioned after her return to Ireland.
  36. ^ "Melbourne mum in Syria is no jihadi: dad". SBS News. 17 April 2015. Retrieved 8 April 2019. Ms Kassab's father said she went to Syria to find out what happened to her husband.
  37. ^ James Dowling (16 April 2015). "Melbourne grandparents' desperate plea for jihadi bride to bring back kids from Syria". Herald Sun. Retrieved 8 April 2019. Mother Dullel Kassab has bragged online that her four-year-old daughter wants to watch videos of Muslims killing bad people.
  38. ^ Phyllis Chesler (8 April 2015). "ISIS "Jihad Bride" Propaganda Lures Foreign Women". Middle East Forum. Archived from the original on 19 March 2018. Retrieved 8 April 2019. Then, there is the scarcity of medical care. The wife of an ISIS fighter was totally ignored as her blood pooled on the hospital floor during a painful miscarriage. According to Kassab: 'She wasn't offered a chair or a bed and nobody even returned to check on her… The muhajireen (migrants) are also subjected to mistreatment and discrimination by the locals.'
  39. ^ Atika Shubert; Jana Andert; Waffa Munayyer; Nadine Schmidt (16 February 2019). "German teenage ISIS wife wed at 15: Two children later she faces uncertain future". CNN. Archived from the original on 3 April 2019. Retrieved 5 May 2019. Lemke is one of thousands of ISIS members in the custody of the US-backed Syrian Defense Forces, hundreds of them believed to be from European countries. But as the US prepares to withdraw its troops, it's unclear if the SDF has the capacity to keep them in custody or will be forced to release them.
  40. ^ a b Smadar Perry (12 January 2019). "ISIS wives: The lost women of war". Ynetnews. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  41. ^ Dave Madoor (21 February 2019). "Hoda Muthana Denied US Citizenship: Other ISIS Brides From The Country". International Business Times. Archived from the original on 26 April 2019. Retrieved 26 April 2019. However, Muthana isn’t the first ISIS bride from the U.S. In 2017, the ISIS was recruiting an army of women who married ISIS militants. They called themselves the “lionesses of Allah” and their children were called the “cubs of caliphate”. They believed they were carrying the work of Allah through all the killings and bloodshed. The ISIS brides were living in Syria and Iraq and several of them made to the terrorist watchlist.
  42. ^ Amy Forlili (17 February 2018). "Minn. terror case shows challenge of predicting attacks". The Ledger. Minneapolis. Archived from the original on 27 April 2019. Retrieved 2 May 2018. After Tnuza Jamal Hassan was stopped from flying to Afghanistan last September, she allegedly told FBI agents that she wanted to join al-Qaida and marry a fighter, and that she might even wear a suicide belt.