These Three ‘Jihadi Bride’ Brits “Are Not She-Devils, But Lost Souls”

These Three 'Jihadi Bride' Brits "Are Not She-Devils, But Lost Souls"


by Zoe Beaty |
Published on

Since three teenage Muslim girls left for Syria to become jihadi brides, debate has raged about whether they were groomed or knew exactly what they were doing. As new claims reveal ‘Jihadi John’ may be a Londoner, here writer Yasmin Alibhai-Brown explains why she believes the runaways are part of a long line of impressionable young women attracted to dangerous men.

Three teenage Muslim girls from East London have gone off, it seems, to join ISIS fighters in Syria. Shamima Begum, 15, Amira Abase, 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, may now be under the control of savage, merciless men; fanatic Muslims who behead, rape and torture at will. God must tremble to watch what they do.

Alarmingly, many young Muslim females now seem to think these bloody warriors are religious rock stars – sexy, dashing, irresistible. It’s thought at least eight schoolgirls have left to join them since last summer. These groupies are smart (the latest three were grade A students), attractive and savvy but naive. Most have lived sheltered, perhaps overprotected lives. In Asian and Arab families, teenage girls have few freedoms and teen rebellions are not part of the culture. Maybe that is the problem. When life feels tedious and small or the hormones are raging, they feel trapped. (I am describing what I know to be true, not blaming families or cultures.)

I know young Muslim women from conservative families who are sick of being ‘good’ and waiting for the arranged marriage. Even those who go to college know that in the end they will have to conform. However, on their computers, they can roam freely, get wild ideas into their heads and feel powerful. They can be easily manipulated, groomed. One daughter of an acquaintance, for example, only 15, left one night last summer to meet a British Muslim ‘soldier’ who promised to marry her. He turned out to be a dirty old man. Thankfully, she escaped but is now withdrawn and refuses to go to school.

Like her, these three teenagers are innocent. Only they have set off on a terrifying journey to join bandits and have their babies. They will have seen images of ISIS atrocities and instead of fear felt the power. They are looking for an alternative, extended, exciting family, which claims to have all the answers. The runaway girls are not she-devils, as some sections of the media and public describe them, but lost souls. They have been brainwashed online not only by male terrorists but also Western handmaidens of ISIS (some of the online sirens may, of course, be captives forced to become recruiters) telling them they will be pleasing God, leaving the world of sin, joining an army that will take over the world.

It would be wrong to see this as a ‘Muslim problem’. Wide-eyed girls have always thrown themselves at handsome revolutionary men and law breakers. It is the ultimate romance, a buzz like no other. Think of Che Guevara, whose guerrilla army fought in the jungle, under terrible conditions. That didn’t stop ardent young women from joining them. Serial killers can be a similar turn-on for some young females. They correspond with the murderers in jail and sometimes even marry them.

Throughout history, women from safe, respectable families have given up everything for the wrong men and causes. In the 1930s, a number of young British women were infatuated with Nazis. The aristocratic Mitford sisters were the Kardashians of their day. One of them, Unity, fell for Hitler and tried to kill herself when the war started, while her sister Diana married Oswald Mosley, leader of the British Fascists.

But such attractions can prove fatal. These jihadi brides were promised paradise but have entered the gates of hell. They deserve not our hate but understanding and deep pity.

Do jihadi brides deserve our sympathy? Thoughts below...

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