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In 2015, Britain was shocked when it became known that three teenage girls left the country and went to Turkey from where they reportedly crossed into Syria and joined the most brutal terrorist group in modern history.
After the UK Supreme Court ruled that Shamima Begum should not be allowed to return to the United Kingdom, public attention turned to the other two girls who fled the United Kingdom with Begum to join Daesh*.
She was 15 when she travelled to Syria in 2015. Just like the parents of the two other girls her mum and dad said their daughter showed no signs of being interested in Islamic extremism. Despite tearful pleas from her parents, who begged Amira to come back home, she did not return.
According to British media outlets, she underwent a training programme in the city of Raqqa, Daesh’s stronghold. In a conversation with a Mail on Sunday reporter Amira revealed that during the four-month programme, which was apparently designed for women who joined the terrorist group, the girls lived in a “sisters” house without being allowed to go out.
She married Australian jihadist Abdullah Elmir, known as Ginger Jihadi, who was also a teenager. The young man often appeared in Daesh propaganda videos and according to The Sun once claimed that the terrorist group won’t stop until its flag flies over Buckingham Palace and the White House.
In late 2015 he was killed during a bombing raid, but Amira survived. For several years, the media claimed she was killed during bombing raids until 2019 when in an interview with The Times Shamima Begum revealed that Abase is alive and had decided to stay on in Baghuz, back then Daesh’s last stronghold.
Begum praised Abase, describing her as a “strong” woman. As of yet there have been no reports about her whereabouts.
Her father believes his daughter along with the other two girls should be forgiven and allowed to return to the United Kingdom, because they did not know what they were doing. Hussen Abase emphasised that the girls were tricked by Daesh’s propaganda and blamed social media for luring his daughter.
“Teenagers don’t contemplate things, they can be easily tricked”, he said.
She was 16 when she travelled to Syria. Her experience with Daesh differs from the other two girls. While Shamima Begum voiced no regret for joining the terrorist group and Amira Abase texted a Mail on Sunday reporter LOL (laughing out loud) in response to a terrorist attack in Tunisia that killed 38 people, 30 of whom were British, Sultana quickly became disillusioned with life under Daesh, her parents said. Her family, who maintained contact with the girl, said the teenager was frightened and wished to return home.
Her wish didn’t come true. According to her family, the 17-year-old was killed during a bombing raid in Raqqa in 2016.
The stories of these three British girls are just a drop in the ocean as thousands of Western nationals joined Daesh when it seized swathes of Iraq and Syria and started recruiting young men and women online.
Authorities in the United Kingdom as well as other Western states still cannot decide what to do with those who joined the terrorist group. One side says they should be tried at home and enrolled in local deradicalisation programmes. The other side says people who joined Daesh acquired skills and connections and that at best they should be jailed, but more preferably should be stripped of their citizenship and tried in the country they’ve chosen, meaning Iraq and Syria.
*Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/Islamic State), a terrorist group banned in Russia and a number of other countries.