London schoolgirl who joined DAESH feared dead in Syria

One of three schoolgirls who left east London early last year to travel to Syria to join DAESH is feared to have been killed in a Russian air strike in Syria.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

A combination of handout CCTV pictures shows (left to right) British teenagers Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum passing through security barriers at Gatwick Airport, south of London, on February 17, 2015. Image: AFP.

One of three schoolgirls who had left the east London town of Bethnal Green back in February last year to travel to Syria with the purpose of joining DAESH is believed to have been killed in a Russian air strike.

The lawyer for Kadiza Sultana family, Tasnime Akunjee, said that they had received a report of her death in Raqqa a few weeks ago.

Her family said she had been hoping to leave Raqqa and cross the border into Turkey, but was killed in May before she was able to make the journey, according to ITV News.  

Kadiza was in the headlines in February last year when she and her two 15-year-old school friends, Amira Base and Shamima Begum, travelled to Syria after allegedly being lured by another friend who was already there.

Kadiza, who was 16 at the time, had flown from Gatwick Airport to Turkey with her friends in early February 2015 after telling their parents they were going out for the day.   

The Bethnal Green Academy students later entered Syria and were believed to be living in Raqqa, a DAESH stronghold.

The girls had been studying at the school in Tower Hamlets in east London. They were described as "straight-A students".

Akunjee told BBC Newsnight that the report of her death is unconfirmed due to the nature of information from Syria.

The lawyer said Kadiza was not happy and wanted to leave DAESH and return home to the UK but she had decided against this because of her fear of being captured and punished. 

This picture shows the up-close images of (left to right) British teenagers Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum, the east London schoolgirls who travelled to Syria to join DAESH. Image: AFP.

"There's nothing worse than finding out your sibling or family member's been killed and by all accounts she was a young girl with a very promising future - and it's a great loss to us all really.

"Every effort was made from the very beginning to try and avoid this fateful news and despite all efforts it's unfortunate that we find ourselves with the loss of a young life," Akunjee told the programme.

"She had expressed a desire to come back. The problem with that was the risk factors around leaving are quite terminal also, in that if ISIS [DAESH] were able to detect and capture you then their punishment is quite brutal for trying to leave,’’ he said of Kadiza.

"In the week where she was thinking of these issues a young Austrian girl had been caught trying to leave ISIS [DAESH] territory and was by all reports beaten to death publicly, so - given that that was circulated in the region as well as outside - I think Kadiza took that as a bad omen and decided not to take the risk."

"I think she found out pretty quickly that the propaganda doesn't match up with the reality," he said, suggesting the reason behind her wanting to leave DAESH.

It is believed that a fourth girl from the same school travelled to Syria üin December 2014.

Two of the three girls had gotten married to DAESH fighters, a lawyer for the families had said last year, without identifying which ones.  

The fate of Kadiza’s two friends is not yet known, but it was reported earlier this year that they were believed to be dead after their families lost contact with them, according to ITV news.

The Bethnal Green schoolgirls were among over 800 Britons who are thought to have left the UK to join DAESH or other groups in Syria and Iraq.

TRTWorld and agencies