Kadiza Sultana, a Bethnal Green schoolgirl who fled the U.K. to join ISIS, was reportedly killed in a Syrian airstrike earlier this year. Sultana and her two friends, Amira Abasa and Shamima Begum, made headlines in last year when they ran away from home with plans to become Jihadi brides. Although authorities launched an extensive search for the teens, they evaded capture and crossed into Syria to join the terrorist sect.
In February, 2015, Amira Abasa, 15, Shamima Begum, 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, devised an elaborate plan to leave the U.K. and join the Islamic State. As reported by CNN, authorities believe the teens were encouraged by Aqsa Mahmood, who reportedly uses social media to recruit other young women to join ISIS and become Jihadi brides.
Although their plan seemed impossible, the British schoolgirls managed to fly from London’s Gatwick Airport to Istanbul, where they crossed the border into Syria.
In March, 2016, Telegraph reported the teens were in the care of a “handler” who was reportedly in the process of “purifying their Western minds.” A man, who was only identified as “Mr. Smith,” explained that the teens were essentially trained in the ways of ISIS and taught Sharia law so they could become trusted members of the terrorist sect.
According to reports, Kadiza Sultana began having second thoughts shortly after joining the Islamic State. She contacted her family numerous times via telephone and expressed her concerns and her wish to return home. However, she was reportedly too frightened to leave.
In one of her last phone calls with her family, which was recorded by ITV News journalist Joshua Baker, Kadiza Sultana said, “I don’t have a good feeling, like I feel scared… If something goes wrong that’s it.”
Although the teen wanted to return home to her family, the former British schoolgirl was reportedly killed in a Syrian airstrike before she had an opportunity to make her way back to the U.K.
Reports of Kadiza Sultana’s death were not officially confirmed. However, her family’s attorney, Tasnime Akunjee, said the family believes the reports are true.
The Guardian reports the former Bethnal Green schoolgirl’s family was devastated, but not surprised to receive the heartbreaking news. In an interview, the teen’s sister, Halima Khanom, said “we were expecting this, in a way. But at least we know she is in a better place.”
— Seref Isler (@seref_i) August 11, 2016
The British Foreign Office refused to discuss reports that Kadiza Sultana was killed in an airstrike. However, they did issue a firm warning for anyone considering travel to Syria.
“The UK has advised for some time against all travel to Syria… As all UK consular services there are suspended, it is extremely difficult to confirm the status and whereabouts of British nationals in Syria. Anyone who does travel to these areas, for whatever reason, is putting themselves in considerable danger.”
At this time, it is unclear where Amira Abasa and Shamima Begum are at this time and whether they are safe. However, the teens are rumored to be in Raqqa and may be married to members of the Islamic State. According to reports, neither of the former British schoolgirls “have given any hint of disillusionment with IS.”
— Jasmine Opperman (@Jasminechic00) August 11, 2016
Although the former Bethnal Green schoolgirl’s death was horrific, her family’s attorney said the tragedy may dissuade other young women from fleeing their homes to join the terrorist sect.
“Leaving Isis is like trying to escape from Alcatraz, with a shoot-to-kill order added in… Perhaps the only benefit out of this is as a tombstone and a testimony for others of the risks of actually going to a war zone, to dissuade people from ever making that choice.”
It is unknown whether Kadiza Sultana’s remains have been or will be returned to her family for proper burial. However, they have accepted reports that the former British schoolgirl is, in fact, dead.
[Photo by AP Photo/Metropolitan Police, File]