Shamima Begum mystery over untold story of fierce and powerful fellow ISIS runaway bride
Shamima Begum 'is trying to remain current' says expert
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Begum, who has lived at northeast Syria’s Al-Roj prison camp since her UK citizenship was reclined in 2019, left London to join ISIS and marry a fighter of the terror group seven years ago. While her story is the only one to continue in the public eye, she was not alone in her venture, but accompanied by two Bethnal Green schoolmates – Kadiza Sultan and Amira Abase.
The three Year 10 students left their families, headed to Gatwick Airport and travelled through Turkey to Syria together.
At the time, CCTV footage of the trio crossing the airport’s metal detector was shown across the world in the hope to prevent them from arriving at their destination.
A former Bethnal Green Academy pupil, Kyle*, remembers those images.
He told MyLondon: “I was watching the news and [Amira] popped up.
“I was at an older relative’s house and just happened to catch it.”
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He was close to Amira, who could be seen walking through security wearing glasses, a yellow jumper and black trousers.
The then-15-year-old reportedly married an 18-year-old Australian ISIS fighter, Abdullah Elmir, who was later that year killed in a drone strike.
Amira had been communicating with her mother Fetia Hussen, who lived back in the UK, on social media. However, the messages suddenly stopped and Ms Hussen believes her daughter is dead, too.
Kyle, who had done extra-curricular sports with her, remembers teenage Amira as a leader.
He said: “I used to think that she was going to run things.
“She was a funny girl…
“You’d hear Amira laughing before you’d see her and she was so friendly to everybody. If she wanted to say something she’d say it, [she wasn’t] shy.
“She [was] like the leader of the herd, a fierce and powerful girl. Every time we saw each other it was just banter, pure jokes and taking the p*** out of each other.
“She was a go-getter. I always thought she’d do athletics or play football for a women’s team somewhere.”
When he saw his three schoolmates in the news, he recalls thinking: “Are these the same girls?”
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Looking back at their schooldays together, he said: “[Kadiza] was the nerdiest of them all. If [Amira] was the loud one, [Shamima] more reserved and [Kadiza] was a complete nerd.”
Speaking highly of them, he said to be baffled by how things changed: “I don’t believe these girls knew what they were doing at all.
“I’m saying they were smart, but there’s book smart and there’s street smart – which is different.”
According to Begum, she was groomed around the age of 12 or 13.
A 2015 investigation by Vice News called Groomed by Islamic State claims Begum herself then groomed at least three girls in her friendship circle to go to Syria.
In the film, Amira’s mother claims her daughter was constantly harassed on the phone by unknown individuals, and that she even asked for a new mobile.
Kyle, who says he feels loss over his friend Amira, said: “Finding out somebody was [communicating with] them on Twitter [I could understand.
“They were still kids.
“Their parents probably had no control over who or what type of messaging was going on. Everything just went under the radar.”
*Name has been changed to protect identity.
Additional reporting by Zak Garner-Purkis
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