Britain's jihadi bride groomer:
Schoolgirl radicalised in London mosque recruited her three classmates to join ISIS in Syria
• Sharmeena Begum, 15, fled East London home to join ISIS in December
• Three months later, three of her closest school friends also fled to Syria
• Initially families blamed internet for grooming Bethnal Green Academy girls
• Now it's claimed Sharmeena was groomed inside the East London Mosque and persuaded three friends to join her at the meetings
By OMAR WAHID FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY
1 August 2015
A teenage jihadi bride who groomed three of her school friends to join her in Syria to fight for Islamic State was radicalised at a women’s charity based at one of Britain’s biggest mosques, it has been claimed.
Sharmeena Begum became one of the youngest British teenagers to join the murderous IS terror group when she fled from her home in East London and travelled to Syria last December aged 15.
months later, three of her closest school friends – Amira Abase, 16,
Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Shamima Begum, 15 – also fled to Syria,
triggering an international search to rescue them.
Islamic leaders and some of their family members blamed the internet for grooming the four schoolgirls, who were all pupils at Bethnal Green Academy in Tower Hamlets, East London.
now it is claimed that Sharmeena was first radicalised inside the East
London Mosque, Whitechapel, allegedly by women from a group called
Islamic Forum of Europe (IFE). She then allegedly groomed three friends
to join her at the meetings.
IFE previously attracted controversy because one of its founders is a
suspected Muslim extremist accused of 18 murders and war crimes in his
Family members and relatives of the teenager broke their silence and told The Mail on Sunday that they suspect rogue individuals within the IFE’s women’s wing, known as the Sisters Forum or Muslimaat, advised her to travel to Syria in the wake of her mother’s death. The IFE has denied the claims.
But in a series of interviews, the MoS has been told:
Sharmeena was groomed at the Sisters Forum when she was extremely vulnerable as she was coping with her mother’s death from cancer. Members of the group allegedly told her she would join her mother in heaven if she died fighting for IS in Syria.
encouraged her three friends to attend meetings at the East London
Mosque, which has always denied links to Islamic extremism.
borrowed £500 from her grandmother, saying she needed it for shopping
but instead used the cash to buy a plane ticket to Turkey and from
there travelled to Syria.
She also duped her grandmother into handing over her passport, saying it was needed for a school project.
Two months ago, Sharmeena, now 16, phoned her family to reveal she had married a Syrian IS fighter.
Sharmeena’s father, Mohammed Nizam Uddin, 38, has revealed that he saw a sudden change in her when his wife, Shahnaz Begum, died of lung cancer in January last year at the age of 33.
Until then, Sharmeena had been a clever schoolgirl who enjoyed the music of Rihanna, loved watching EastEnders and studied hard as she had dreams of becoming a doctor.
But Mr Uddin, a waiter in an Indian restaurant, said: ‘I told the police that Sharmeena definitely changed after her mother died.
Sharmeena began attending the East London Mosque regularly and started wearing Isamic clothes such as the hijab. Mr Uddin thought his daughter’s new interest in Islam was her way of coping with her mother’s death and so did not show any concern.
said: ‘She used to tell me to take her to the East London Mosque as she
wanted to go and pray there. Sometimes she used to call me to pick her
up from there.’
Uddin was careful not to blame the mosque or groups within it for his
daughter’s radicalisation, but his brother-in-law said the rest of the
family blamed the IFE’s women’s group for poisoning the young girl’s
Baki Miah, 35, a step-uncle to Sharmeena, said: ‘They told her things like, if she goes and dies in Syria, she would go to paradise, where she would meet her mother.
‘I am 500 per cent sure that she was groomed at the East London Mosque. She was spending most of her time in the mosque, after school and all the time, she was spending in the mosque.’
After Sharmeena arrived in Syria in December, she contacted her grandmother and her father to tell them that she was there.
Family friend Shahidur Rahman, 47, a restaurateur from Wembley, North London, said: ‘When Sharmeena went to Syria, she called her dad up, and one time she said, “If I die here, then I will go to my mother.”’
In February, Amira, Kadiza and Shamima caught a flight from Gatwick to Istanbul after telling their families they were going to revision classes at their school. Despite a tearful appeal by their families on national television, and an international manhunt launched to rescue them before they crossed into Syria, the three girls were smuggled into IS territory.
A separate investigation by internet news channel Vice News, broadcast today on its website, claims that by the summer holidays last year, Sharmeena was determined to travel to Syria, and that she in turn radicalised her three best friends at school, under the noses of parents and teachers.
The girls were in the same year at Bethnal Green Academy – a mixed-sex, multicultural secondary school rated ‘excellent’ by Ofsted – and had been close friends for years.
Although the Vice documentary, which is called Groomed By The Islamic State, does not implicate the mosque, Mr Miah said that Amira, Kadiza and Shamima also used to attend the Sisters Forum events with Sharmeena.
But now all the girls are believed to be in Raqqa, the de facto capital of IS in Syria, having been married off to fanatical fighters.
Last month, the MoS revealed how Amira had married the notorious Australian fighter Abdullah Elmir, 18, who is called ‘Ginger Jihadi’ because of his long red hair.
We also revealed how Amira callously mocked the 38 victims of the the Tunisian massacre by texting LOL [laugh out loud] to an undercover reporter when she was informed of the incident.
Sharmeena’s father said his daughter called her grandmother in East London two months ago and revealed that she was married.
But the girls’ distraught families insist they had no hint that their daughters were being radicalised in any way, despite some suspicious behaviour in the months leading up to their disappearance. Amira’s mother Fetia and her husband Abase Hussen, 47, told Vice News that her daughter was bombarded with calls and messages on her phone in the run-up to her leaving for Syria.
broken English, she added: ‘She asked me, “I don’t want to contact
anyone, I want to change my number.” She said, “Just leave it mummy, I
just want to change my sim card or my mobile.”
sharing a bedroom with her daughter, she thought the teenager was
staying up late spending time on her laptop to revise for her GCSE
exams, rather than anything sinister.
Fetia added: ‘We share same bedroom. You know she sleeping two o’clock, 3 o’clock. I’m with her on the computer. I’m with her always. How can she plan this, she can’t, she revise all the time all the night, I don’t know.’ Now Fetia realises the horrible significance of this, adding: ‘Someone was pushing her.’
families of Amira, Shamima and Khadiza issued a statement last night
saying: ‘Our daughters may have attended the East London Mosque to
pray, but to our knowledge have never been associated or a part of the
Islamic Forum of Europe.
'The Mosque and even the IFE have a strong track record of speaking out against and condemning extremism, this is well known within our community.’
Yard declined to comment, saying that investigations into the girls’
journey to Syria were continuing. Two women, aged 20 and 21, from North
London, were arrested in February after apparently encouraging
Sharmeena to travel to Syria.
Their identities have not been released and it is not known if they are connected to the East London Mosque or the Sisters Forum. They have been bailed to a date later this month.
Last night the mosque strongly denied playing a role in the radicalisation of Sharmeena and her three friends. In a statement, the mosque’s lawyers said it was attended by thousands of worshippers each week ‘so it is possible, indeed probable, that one or more of the girls attended at some point’.
But they added: ‘The ELM in all its statements, both written and verbal, has been unequivocal in condemning ISIS and in warning people not to travel to Syria.’
The IFE refused to comment. However, sources close to the group denied the four schoolgirls were known to the organisation. They added that the group organises many public meetings and events that are open to the public.
of the IFE’s founding leaders was Chowdhury Mueen Uddin, 64, who is
accused of at least 18 murders as well as war crimes in his native
Bangladesh during its bloody war of independence in 1971.
ISIS suspects reportedly arrested in Moscow suburb
Published time: 24 Jul, 2015
than 30 people have been detained in a suburb of the Russian capital on
suspicion of recruiting for the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISL)
terror group, social media reports suggested on Friday.
Interior Ministry officials have confirmed to RT that they made arrests
in Balashikha, about 20 kilometers east of Moscow. However, they didn’t
comment further on the issue.
arrests took place in a mosque on Pervomayskaya Street, where IS
affiliates were allegedly distributing extremist materials and hiring
recruits, according to a post on the town’s community Facebook page.
A mosque employee told RT that security officials only checked the worshipers’ documents, and everyone has been released.
intelligence services have recently recorded a rise in the number of
Russian citizens recruited by the IS militants, who are rampaging
through parts of Syria and Iraq. According to different estimates,
there are currently from two to five thousand Russians fighting for the
jihadists, head of the Anti-terrorist Center of the Commonwealth of
Independent States (CIS), Andrey Novikov, told Interfax last month.
have been incidents of IS attempts to recruit Russian students, among
which is the case of Lomonosov Moscow State University philosophy
student Varvara Karaulova. She was caught trying to cross the
Turkey-Syria border to join the terror group, along with 13 other
Russian citizens in June.
to the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, 20,000
foreign nationals from about 100 countries around the world were
estimated to be fighting for various militant groups, including IS as
of January. Nearly a fifth came from Western Europe, with the UK and
Germany topping the list, it added. Other countries, whose influx
exceeds 1,000 people, include Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia.
Isis recruiting 'highly trained foreigners' to produce chemical weapon
Sunday 07 June 2015
The terrorist group Isis is recruiting “highly trained professionals” to make chemical weapons – and has already used them in an attack.
The Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, said the group was now undertaking "serious efforts" to develop their chemical weapons arsenal.
Speaking to the Australia Group, which is composed of nations against chemical weapons, she said: “Da’esh [Isis] is likely to have amongst its tens of thousands of recruits the technical expertise necessary to further refine precursor materials and build chemical weapons,” Ms Bishop added.
Ms Bishop’s speech is the latest concern that Isis is attempting to acquire nuclear and chemical and biological weapons, after India warned the extremists could obtain a nuclear weapon from Pakistan.
It was reported in March that Isis had been attacking Iraqi soldiers with roadside bombs containing chlorine gas in fighting around Tikrit, after footage emerged showing plumes of orange smoke emerging for the bombs.
It follows similar allegations that the extremists had released toxic gases in the eastern district of Kobani, during the siege of the town on the Syrian border, although it could not be confirmed.
Ms Bishop added: “Apart from some crude and small scale endeavours, the conventional wisdom has been that the terrorist intention to acquire and weaponise chemical agents has been largely aspirational.
“The use of chlorine by Da’esh [Isis], and its recruitment of highly trained professionals, including from the West, have revealed far more serious efforts in chemical weapons development.”
They seek to undermine and overthrow that order – and as we have seen, are prepared to use any and all means – any and all forms of violence they can think of to advance their demented cause.
Obama administration let anti-gay Muslim leader into U.S.
By Kenneth R. Timmerman
March 2, 2014
New York Post
as the Obama administration denounced what it called anti-gay
legislation in Arizona and the president sat out the Sochi Olympics
because of Russia’s crackdown on same-sex couples, the State Department
allowed an Islamic preacher who called for the death penalty for
homosexuals into the country for a tour of hate.
Mohammad Rateb al-Nabulsi was issued a visa for a 17-city tour of US
mosques to raise money and support for the Syrian uprising. He arrived
New Year’s Day.
radical Syrian cleric has made no secret of his virulent anti-gay
views. Appearing April 28, 2011, on al Aqsa TV, the official network of
the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza, al-Nabulsi said:
“Homosexuality involves a filthy place and does not generate offspring.
Homosexuality leads to the destruction of the homosexual. That is why,
brothers, homosexuality carries the death penalty.”
radical’s remarks were translated into English and widely distributed
in the diplomatic and intelligence communities. The independent Middle
East Media Research Institute, MEMRI, translated a 2¹/₂-minute segment
from the speech, in which al-Nabulsi explained with clear contempt the
spread of homosexual practices in Western countries.
addition to his anti-gay pronouncements, Sheikh al-Nabulsi has publicly
endorsed holy war against Westerners and Jews as well as suicide
bombings against Israel, America’s democratic ally in the region.
“All the Jewish people are combatants,” he said in a religious edict that appeared in Arabic on his personal website.
Israelis] do not have a regular army; they have a reserve army, and all
the people can fight, so this is essentially an entirely aggressive
entity from A to Z. This is the Sharia ruling.”
enemy . . . says ‘suicide operations’ to deceive Muslims, that this is
suicide, but we should call them ‘martyrdom operations,’ ” he said.
Muslim leader came to the United States for a fundraising tour for a
newly formed coalition of radical Islamist militias fighting Syrian
dictator Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian civil war has cost more than
100,000 civilian lives, according to United Nations’ estimates.
cleric’s tour was sponsored by the Syrian American Council and Shaam
Relief, groups that are spearheading a massive lobbying campaign to
convince Congress to support an anti-Assad alliance of Islamist groups,
some of them with reported ties to al Qaeda.
his month-long tour, al-Nabulsi spoke in Arabic to audiences from coast
to coast. His appearances, heavily promoted on Facebook, began in
Spring Hill, Fla., on Jan. 1 and included a stop in Jersey City. There
are no publicly available records of how much money he raised.
Syrian American Council submitted al-Nabulsi’s visa request to the
State Department’s Syria desk. A Department official told the American
Media Institute that all visa requests, especially for individuals from
countries on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of
terrorism, get scrutinized.
visa applicant undergoes a screening to detect connections to
terrorism, and that includes inputs from multiple federal partners,”
the official said.
whether al-Nabulsi’s televised remarks calling for killing homosexuals
and Jews should have banned him from travel to America, a second State
Department official, specializing in visa requests, pointed to Section
212(a)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which covers a broad
range of terrorist-related activity, including promoting the use of
violence and incitement. Nonetheless, the visa was issued.
current policy, a foreign national applying for a US visa who is known
to have promoted jihad and suicide bombings would be ordinarily deemed
‘undesirable’ and denied a visa,” according to a report from the
Investigative Project on Terrorism, a Washington, DC-based group
founded by investigative reporter Steven Emerson.
the Investigative Project on Terrorism published translations of these
and other comments from his website, al-Nabulsi issued a statement on
Jan. 18, denying that he promoted the killing of civilians.
is not permitted to kill civilians, non-combatants, using any method,
regardless of their national, ethnic or religious background,” he said
in a statement distributed by the Syrian American Council.
State Department officials contacted by the American Media Institute
regarding al-Nabulsi’s visa referred to his retraction and suggested
that “false reporting” was responsible for the furor over his visa.
days of AMI’s contact with the State Department, al-Nabulsi removed the
reference to killing Jewish civilians from his website.
say one thing in Arabic and another in English,” Emerson said.
“Deception is part of the arsenal of war, and these guys have perfected
deception to an art. They know how to play America and our
vulnerabilities so their disinformation is accepted as the truth.”
Or chances are the Obama administration simply wants to look the other way. To avoid offending Muslims, they ignore hate speech.
Wooing Recruits To Radical Islam Like 'Dating'
Feb. 18, 2010
National Public Radio
Pakistan discovers 'village' of white German al-Qaeda insurgents
Investigators have discovered a "Jihadi village" of white German al-Qaeda insurgents, including Muslim converts, in Pakistan's tribal areas close to the Afghan border.
By Dean Nelson in New Delhi and Allan Hall in Berlin
25 Sep 2009
The village, in Taliban-controlled Waziristan, is run by the notorious al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which plots raids on Nato forces in Afghanistan.
A recruitment video presents life in the village as a desirable lifestyle choice with schools, hospitals, pharmacies and day care centres, all at a safe distance from the front.
In the video, the presenter, "Abu Adam", the public face of the group in Germany, points his finger and asks: "Doesn't it appeal to you? We warmly invite you to join us!"
According to German foreign ministry officials a growing number of German families, many of North African descent, have taken up the offer and travelled to Waziristan where supporters say converts make up some of the insurgents' most dedicated fighters.
The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which has a foothold in several German cities, has capitalised on growing concern over the rising profile of German forces in Afghanistan. Their role has become increasingly controversial in Germany in recent weeks after dozens of civilians were killed in an air strike ordered by German officers.
Last night a foreign ministry spokesman told The Daily Telegraph they were now negotiating with Pakistani authorities for the release of six Germans, including "Adrian M", a white Muslim convert, his Eritrean wife and their four year old daughter, who were arrested as they were making their way to the "German village". They are particularly concerned about the welfare of the child.
They are being held in custody in Peshawar after their arrest in May shortly when they crossed the border from Iran. They are understood to have left Germany in March this year.
The spokesman said negotiations were "under way" with Pakistani authorities "concerning a group of German citizens" and that it had been aware that the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan had been recruiting in Germany "since the beginning of the year".
Their recruitment drive has been led by "Abu Adam", a 24-year-old German believed to be of Turkish or North African descent who was raised with fellow Jihadi, Abu Ibrahim, in the smart Bonn suburb of Kessenich.
Adam, whose real name is Mounir Chouka, received weapons training from the German army as part of his national service, and later spent three years training at the Federal Office of Statistics where colleagues described him as a "nice boy".
He left in 2007, telling colleagues he was joining a trading firm in Saudi Arabia, but is believed to have joined a terrorist training camp in Yemen.
In another recruitment video released earlier this year he urged supporters to: "Die the death of honour."
Khalid Khawaja, a former Pakistan intelligence officer, who describes himself as a friend of Osama bin Laden, said he was aware of a German contingent and that there were a number of Swedish converts too who had arrived in Pakistan "for Jihad".
"The Europeans are there [in Waziristan]. The most dedicated people there are from Europe. They will do anything for Islam. They are not there because their fathers are Muslim, but by choice," he said.
Thai Rebels Recruiting in Schools, Study Says
By THOMAS FULLER
The New York Times
June 21, 2009
BANGKOK — Insurgents in southern Thailand are using a network of Islamic schools to recruit fighters, but their movement does not appear to be linked to Al Qaeda or other foreign Islamist groups, according to a study due to be released Monday.
Since an increase in violence five years ago, analysts have sought to pinpoint the primary motivations of an insurgency that has left more than 3,400 people dead in towns and villages only several hours away from Thailand’s most popular beach resorts.
The 20-page study, by the International Crisis Group, describes a homegrown movement of Malay Muslim fighters seeking independence from Thailand and built around longstanding resentment toward the Thai Buddhist majority. Thai officials have in the past attributed the violence to the drug trade and other criminal activities.
A group known as the National Revolutionary Front-Coordinate was the main force in recruiting an estimated 1,800 to 3,000 fighters drawn from more than 100,000 students in southern Thailand’s Islamic school system, the report says.
“The classroom is the point of first contact,” the report says. “Recruiters invite those who seem promising devout Muslims of good character who are moved by a history of oppression, mistreatment and the idea of armed jihad to join extracurricular indoctrination programs in mosques or disguised as football training.”
The Crisis Group said the report was based on 16 months of interviews with religious teachers and students — all of whom are unnamed — involved in underground activities.
Violence in southern Thailand has been overshadowed by the political crisis in the country, but the southern insurgency remains one of the region’s most deadly and intractable ethnic conflicts.
Until recent weeks a two-year crackdown by the Thai military appeared to be reducing violence in the area. But tensions flared this month when a group of masked gunmen opened fire on a crowd of worshipers outside a mosque, killing 10 people and seriously wounding 12. Since the start of this month, 36 people have been killed and more than 100 have been wounded in the region.
The victims of the attacks are often Buddhists, notably teachers and government officials, but more than half of those killed in the past five years were Muslims, many labeled by the insurgents as collaborators or spies for the Thai government.
The insurgents use many of the same methods in their recruitment — oath-taking, indoctrination and military training — as other jihadist groups. But the difference in southern Thailand, the report says, is that recruiters “appeal to Malay nationalism and the oppression of Malay Muslims by Buddhist Thai rulers” rather than invoking a universal Islamic state or a global jihad.
A pamphlet found at an Islamic school during a raid by security forces in 2005 offered a window into the teachings.
“Our land is crying and calling and waiting for independence and fraternity,” the pamphlet said. “We have been treated as second-class citizens or like children of slaves.”
The insurgents are helped in their recruitment by reports of torture by the military, disappearances and extrajudicial killings. A Muslim lawyers group counted 74 reports of torture of detainees between June 2007 and April 2008.
The recruitment is secretive, and even in schools where insurgents are active, “not all school administrators, teachers and students may be aware of what is happening, let alone consent to it,” the report says.
The government has tried to offer an alternative to the traditional community-based Islamic schools, where instruction is often only in the Malay language, but has met deadly resistance. Over the past five years, 115 public school teachers and education officials have been killed and 200 schools burned in what Human Rights Watch called a “sickening trend.”
Islamist Radicals Use Web to Reach Asian Youth
Monday, March 09, 2009
SYDNEY — Extremist groups in Southeast Asia are increasingly using the Internet and social networking to radicalize the youth of the region, said a new security report released Friday.
Internet usage in Southeast Asia has exploded since 2000 and extremist groups have developed a sophisticated online presence, including professional media units.
"For extremist groups in our region, the internet is an increasingly important tool for recruitment to violence," said the report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
"Importantly, they aren't attacking only the West, but are drawing on their narrative to attack the governance arrangements of regional states," said the report titled "Countering internet radicalization in Southeast Asia" (www.aspi.org.au/).
The report said online extremism first appeared in Southeast Asia in early 2000, particularly in the Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Melayu language cyber-environment.
Since then Internet usage in the region has exploded and so too have extremist Web sites, chat rooms and blogs.
The number of radical and extremist Web sites in Bahasa Indonesia and Bahasa Melayu -- the official languages of Indonesia and Malaysia, which are very similar -- rose from 15 in 2007 to 117 in 2008.
Of those, sympathetic Web sites rose from 10 to 16 and sympathetic blogs and social networking rose from zero to 82.
Between 2006 and July 2007, radical regional websites have disseminated Al Qaeda and Southeast Asian militant group Jemaah Islamiah propaganda videos, pictures and statements, it said.
In Indonesia, which has battled extremist Muslim groups responsible for bombings, Internet usage rose from 2 million in 2000 to 20 million in January 2008.
The country now represents 80 to 90 percent of visitors to 10 radical and extremist Web sites in the region, said the report.
The Philippines, which has a Muslim insurgency, has seen Internet usage rise to 14 million from 2 million in 2000, Malaysia 14.9 million from 3.7 million and Thailand 8.5 million from 2.3 million in the same period.
"The Bahasa [Indonesia] and Malay language websites include sites manned by radical and extremist groups, Islamic boarding schools (pesantrens), and groups of individuals who sympathize with and support the ideology of violent jihad," said the report.
One of the first appearances of a "tradecraft manual" was in August 2007 in the then forum, Jihad al-Firdaus. The forum had a section on electronic jihad, including several hacking manuals.
In 2008 the region's first sophisticated bomb-making manual and bomb-making video were posted on the Forum Al-Tawbah, which is registered in Shah Alam, Selangor and Malaysia, said the report.
But it said there had been no serious attempt to plan militant operations in these forums, adding further details of their activities were in private messages or personal emails.
Extremists were using a variety of technology to spread their message. "Blogs and personal social networking accounts provided more than half of the increase in 2008," said the report.
Militant groups have also become internet media savvy.
The Mujahidin Syura Council, an extremist group that claims to operate in southern Thailand, launched an official media wing in July 2008 as a blog on Google, said the report.
The Khattab Media Publication's blog is mainly written in Malay and was used to announce the start of a new military campaign, codenamed Operation Tawbah (Operation Repentance).
Another group, Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, often produces high-quality videos of its activities and uploads them onto YouTube.
Many of the videos focus on the failings of the Indonesian government and the need to implement sharia law and establish an Islamic caliphate, said the report.
"Extremist groups without access to mainstream media place great value on having online media units to boost their reputations and recruit people via the internet," it said.
The report said that regional governments had done little to stop the rise of online radicalization, partly because attempts to regulate cyberspace have been a political minefield.
It said while Web sites inciting violence are subject to criminal laws in some countries, there are often no specific regulations covering the internet.
"Some governments don't want to appear un-Islamic by coming down hard on Islamist groups, and some don't want to appear undemocratic by seeming to rein in freedom of expression in cyberspace," it said. "The problem of online radicalization crosses national borders and will require a concerted international response."
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