Two of three British teenage girls who left the country in February, apparently to join ISIS in Syria, may now be married — but to whom?
The Guardian newspaper, citing family members, is reporting that the pair have married men approved for them by ISIS. But a lawyer for the girls’ families told CNN he could not verify all aspects of the report.
The lawyer, Tasnime Akunjee, said that two of the girls are believed to now be married “to people in the territory of Syria. … We don’t know if they are ISIS fighters at the moment.”
Akunjee said that one of the girls had called her family to tell them she was married. The other girl used a social media platform, he said, without giving more details.
The three girls caused consternation early this year when they left the UK, apparently without warning, and went to Syria. A packing list they left behind looked like one that any teenage girl might make before leaving on vacation: makeup, bras, underwear, boots, an epilator, according to the Guardian, which saw the list.
The girls — Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Amira Abasa, 15 — boarded a Turkish Airlines flight from London’s Gatwick Airport to Istanbul on February 17. They are thought to have crossed the border into Syria within days.
The three are now believed be living in Raqqa, east of Aleppo. And Akunjee, the family lawyer, said communication with the girls has been almost impossible since bombing started in Raqqa.
News that two of the girls may be married “has caused a lot of distress,” Akunjee told the Guardian. “It entrenches their lives in Syria, rather than in Britain. It erodes significantly hopes that they will come back.”
In March, a video surfaced that claimed to show the three teenagers preparing the cross the Turkish border into Syria the previous month. The footage purportedly was recorded February 19 in the southeastern Turkish city of Gaziantep, just north of Aleppo.
Days before they left for Turkey, at least one of the girls allegedly contacted a young woman, Aqsa Mahmood, who left her home in Scotland to travel to Syria in 2013 and is accused of trying to recruit others via social media.
She has posted tips for girls and young women wanting to travel to Syria to marry jihadis, as she did. Her blog also has links to advice posted by another jihad supporter, which recommends that those traveling to Syria seek to pack the essentials but not too much, since they may need to move often and at short notice, while remaining inconspicuous.