More profiles of young British Jihadists have been released. Samiun Rahman, a young man arrested in Dhaka as an ISIS
volunteer to fight in Syria was a serious rock singer and guitarist with a recording contract with a British music company. According to police, Rahman had turned to militant Islam just over two years ago after he was arrested by police in London for being drunk.
Women and girls appear to make up about 10% of those leaving Europe, North America and Australia to link up with jihadi groups, including ISIS. France has the highest number of female jihadi recruits, with 63 in the region – about 25% of the total – and at least another 60 believed to be considering the move. In most cases, women and girls appear to have left home to marry jihadis, drawn to the idea of supporting their “brother fighters” and having “jihadist children to continue the spread of Islam”, said Louis Caprioli, former head of the French security agency Direction de la Surveillance du Territoire. “If their husband dies, they will be given adulation as the wife of a martyr.”
Fifteen-year-old Yusra Hussein is the latest British girl thought to have joined Islamic State fighters. The “intelligent, beautiful” student – who dreamt of being a dentist – is now believed to be in Turkey preparing to cross into Syria and join up with jihadists from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil). Twins Zahra and Salma Halane, 16, from Manchester, are believed to have travelled to Syria in July. Aqsa Mahmood, 20, was a student in Glasgow who dreamed of becoming a doctor. Now she’s understood to be part of an all-female militant group in Syria, along with 60 other young women.
British Muslim women have spoken about their reactions to the number of women travelling to Syria. They simply cannot comprehend why they would give up their life full of opportunities. A big concern for these young women is that these “jihadi brides” will mar their religion’s reputation. Fatima Ali, an 18-year-old schoolgirl, states, “It’s impacting us as well. Obviously we’re young British Muslims so people will think we might do it too. People might discriminate against us more now.”
Inspire, a counter-extremism and human rights organisation which seeks to address issues facing British Muslim women, organised a protest in London against the Islamic State’s barbarism. The movement has its own hashtag -#MakingAStand. British Muslims have spoken out against the Islamic State before, with social media campaigns such as #NotInMyName, which went viral on Twitter. But the difference here is that #MakingAStand focuses solely on women. Sara Khan – co-founder of Inspire – says that the majority of the young women she meets are “utterly flabbergasted” when they hear about British Muslims jumping on a plane to Syria and Iraq, and “can’t get their head around the idea that young women who have all the freedoms and rights in this country have sacrificed all of that to go and marry a stranger”.