British female jihadist authors disturbing recruitment document

The document offers a chilling mixture of the mundane and the depraved.

The document offers a chilling mixture of the mundane and the depraved

“…sisters… come and gain true honour by living under the law of Sharia, by marrying a brother who puts Allah before his desires…”

These are the disturbing words of Aqsa Mahmood, the Glaswegian medical student who left for Syria a few months ago in order to join the terrorist group calling itself Islamic State (IS).

In a document that surfaced on the internet a couple of weeks ago, Aqsa sheds light not only on daily life under IS rule but also on the motivations young female Muslims may have for joining the struggle.

On one hand Aqsa comes across as a typical tech-savvy and image conscious young girl when she quips “we mostly depend on blue-toothing with one another” and “bring make-up and jewellery from the West because trust me there is nothing here”.

On the other hand, she exhorts young Muslim women in the West to join her by asserting “If you are still in doubt then research until you are content. However, do not keep using this as an excuse to stay back from the land of Jihad”.

She also appears remarkable at ease with her second class status as a woman under IS rule when she cautions women that they will not be allowed to fight and are expected to spend most of their time ‘cooking, cleaning, looking after and even educating children’. The single sacrifice that came in the way of her travelling to her dystopian paradise to offer her services to the IS struggle seems to be her family.

In haunting and poetic words, that reveal a mind-set that is both perturbed and beguiled, Aqsa says “Personally an important step for me was trying to distance myself from my family as much as I could’….this was crucial for myself as I didn’t and still don’t trust my stubborn heart…Leaving my family for the sake of Allah was the biggest sacrifice I’ve ever made in my selfish life so far.”

The document offers a chilling juxtaposition of the mundane with the depraved, couched in language that manages both a vernacular and pious tone. The words are simultaneously heart-wrenching, poorly-spelled and hauntingly eloquent.

However, hiding behind the faux piety and heroic altruism of her words is an egoism and self-righteousness, qualities that are often masked with sanctitude. Crucially they offer an insight into just how twisted and deluded the human mind can become when intoxicated by religious dogma synthesized with political certainty.

In a strange kind of way I can appreciate what is going through his poor young girl’s mind, or rather I understand the milieu in which she was raised. That all-pervasive sense of victimhood, pernicious anti-Muslim conspiracies around every corner, the desire to live in a society that reflects a puritanical interpretation of Islam and that drive to play a role in creating a global bloc of Muslims living under a single leader.

These are sentiments that are shared by many Islamist and Salafist groups around the world, groups that would even condemn IS and call themselves mainstream. These are groups that I grew up listening to and, for a brief while, following.

However, what individuals that have peddled such ideas for many years in the UK and around the world fail to appreciate is the fact that their handiwork has primed young people like Aqsa for IS recruitment. A wide variety of such groups and individual activists have, in their quest to deflect contemporary Muslim failings in order to salvage much needed Muslim pride, created an atmosphere in which jihadism can become the logical next step.

Aqsa and her disturbing document should not be viewed in a vacuum or as an anomaly. Her quest to go and live by the Islam she has read about in books and heard about in speeches has ended in IS controlled Syria for a reason. When a vacuous and literalist approach to scripture alongside a ‘them and us’ hate narrative is peddled as the mainstream, it is inevitable that a section of adherents will seek to walk the walk.

In the eyes of Aqsa, the normativisation of a medieval interpretation of Islam meant life in modern society felt uncomfortable and hostile. The natural choice then is to migrate to a land in which ones conception of Islam fits with the ground realities and daily life.

So in essence IS recruits see that their retrograde ideology does not fit with the modern world so instead of adapting to the modern world they seek to adapt the world to their retrograde ideology. This explains the wholesale destruction and chaos they bring to every area they conquer, bringing about 7th century social conditions to which they can apply their 7th century view of religion.

Aqsa is not alone. She may be one of the more articulate of the British female recruits to IS but her broad sentiments are shared by hundreds of other Brits. Unfortunately we will continue churning out such individuals as long as we allow peddlers of hate and purveyors medieval romanticism to go about their business unchallenged.

Ghaffar Hussain is the the managing director of Quilliam

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24 Responses to “British female jihadist authors disturbing recruitment document”

  1. TN

    There was an article (I think on BBC News) about female jihadists from the west and what IS might offer them and their motivations for joining. It seemed like the similar juxtaposition of extremism with a mawkish craving for some idealised kind of Islamic society they can’t find in their country of residence. Makes you wonder, why don’t these same people just go to their parents’ country of birth (Pakistan, Somalia, etc) if they want to live a full “Islamic life”? The ages of some of these girls make IS indoctrination all the more chilling. A girl from Bristol who seemed to be living a fairly happy life just left with a friend the other week, some friends saying the brainwashing took place online.

    Look at how those two Austrian jihadist female recruits are now reportedly “regretting” their decision to join ISIL. They frankly made their beds and have to live with the consequences. As far as I’m concerned, flights (direct and indirect) to Iraq and Syria, usually via Turkey, need to be heavily monitored at airports.Before any of these would-be militants leave, they can be locked up under anti-terror legislation.

  2. Leon Wolfeson

    So what, anyone on the “wrong flight” should be arrested?
    You do realise that not everyone travelling there is a jihaddi, right?

    There’s businessmen, aid workers…

  3. TN

    That’s pretty disingenuous. It’s quite obvious heavy monitoring shouldn’t affect businessmen and aid workers.

  4. Leon Wolfeson


    How good do you think monitoring of this nature is? It’s far, far from perfect. Moreover, the problem people would then route differently, leaving us with a big bill and egg on our faces.

    Better we tackle it here with education and by having the secret services do their jobs.

  5. Peter Gilkes

    With education? You cannot educate someone who believes in ‘fairy stories’. If you’re able to swallow all the nonsense of a religion, a bit of good advice is unlikely to be well received.

  6. swat

    Ihave a theory that most of the Muslim Community has been brainwashed annd is in self denial about the negative impact they are having on society at large. And they are not prepared to do anything about it to change that perception.

  7. Leon Wolfeson

    Given your “advice” is to not educate anyone who is a theist of any kind…

    Yea, you’re an extremist. Go figure.
    Back in the real world, it works fine.

  8. Guest

    See, being attacked by ignorant thugs is not having a “negative image”, it’s being attacked by ignorant thugs.

  9. Peter Gilkes

    Those from my country that have gone abroad for jihad are, on average, from the better educated section of the population. Belief and rationality are often mutually exclusive. (“Advice” is not “advise”, in case that’s why you put it on quotes.) Do the math.

  10. Leon Wolfeson

    So your “math” is to deny them access to education in the first place.

    And indeed, you are putting your beliefs before your rationality, given you’d deny the vast majority of the population education!

    It’s also nothing to do with the sort of educational efforts (community work) I was talking about, but hey.

  11. Peter Gilkes

    You saw the parody, then? If not, go figure.

    I thought you were talking about British people ‘going jihad’. If you’re not, I apologise. If you are, they are all educated because that’s what we do i this country; girls as well as boys.

    Good luck with your community work, but watch out for their big brothers who won’t take kindly to you messing with their heads. You’ll be accused of being an imperialist or Zionist stooge.

    And don’t sweat the small stuff!

  12. Leon Wolfeson

    Parody? That’s the third time I’ve seen that or very similar proposed this week. So no, I didn’t notice.

    And, er, I’ve never had a problem with inter-faith work, and the only time I’ve had a problem with a Muslim was a British-born convert – and that was on the level of feeling extremely uncomfortable with his views to the degree I left the meeting.

  13. Peter Gilkes

    ‘Go figure.’ ‘Do the math.’ You Americans, eh?

    Anyway, Leon, it would be difficult to offer an alternative to the disaffected. A nice ‘wife’, a few slaves or women to rape, as many people to blow away as you can manage. “Code of Bad Conduct” for real. Or…what?

  14. Leon Wolfeson

    “A nice ‘wife’, a few slaves or women to rape, as many people to blow away as you can manage.”

    I’ve seen quite a few far right wingers on forums lately who’d be happy with that.

    Excepting them, frankly, there’s more educational efforts needed. And the far right in this country is cyclic and near-peak, as far as I can tell.

  15. Peter Gilkes

    UKIP are pretty far right to me!

  16. Leon Wolfeson

    It’s complex.

    The UKIP’s leadership is Culturally Imperalist, but they have currently swept up the entire far right vote.

  17. Peter Gilkes

    They are sweeping up all the xenophobic voters; from Labour as well.

  18. Leon Wolfeson

    Polls show very little crossover with Labour.

  19. Peter Gilkes

    Let’s hope that’s so.

  20. TN

    I agree. It’s no wonder they hate any Muslim who dares to speak out about the “community” or belong to sects/ethnic groups which are not part of the dominant Sunni grouping.

    Whether its insular conservativism or extremism, it’s a community that needs to get its house in order and more dissenting voices need to break away from the narratives of the “community” or others influencing them.

  21. Just Visiting

    can you tell us more about that meeting? Why was leaving the meeting your response, to hearing the views- did you consider anyother responses?

  22. Leon Wolfeson

    Sure – he was an “external” speaker, and I felt that if I remained that I would say something inappropriate to an inter-faith setting.

    The other Muslims, afterwards, agreed it was a mistake to invite him and they didn’t agree with his views, and I never saw him again.

  23. Joseph Flannagan

    It will be interesting to hear what she thinks a year from now !. My guess is that she will be desperate to return to UK and the freedoms of the west. She may be in ” honeymoon ” mode at present but once the realities of JUST being there to cook and clean hit home then she will have her eyes open to just how dull and unproductive life of an islamic wife actually is. There is no way she should EVER be allowed to return to Britain ( no doubt wanting to bring her husband and children as dependents ) once she tires of living in paradise.

  24. Joseph Flannagan

    It is not just theory. From birth muslims are indoctrinated as to the perfection of islam , mohammed and the koran. It is made perfectly plain what happens to anyone who criticises , questions , blasphemes or leaves islam. They are actively discouraged from studying or investigating ANY other religious belief systems – except of course the absolutely negative and hateful islamic version of kuffars as fed to them by islamic scholars – and especially the girls are generally not allowed to mix socially with non muslims. This is why they push for islamic schools , refuse to integrate and maintain loyalties to islam and their countries of origin. Many muslims know the koran by heart from cover to cover but cannot understand a single word as they speak NO Arabic. Hundreds of millions of muslims are totally illiterate and have NEVER read the koran and are at the mercy of clerics who are themselves often semi literate to ” explain ” the koran. Since the time of mohammed islam has been paranoid about enemies and plots against it and that continues to this day. Despite the muslim inspired violence in Somalia , Libya , Egypt , Iraq , Sudan , Afghanistan , Syria , Mali , Yemen , Algeria , Pakistan , China , Thailand , Philippines , USA , Europe ,India , Russia , etc they continue to deny it is anything to do with islam. This denial is reinforced very strongly by idiot politicians and a media that goes to great lengths to avoid mentioning islam in ANY reporting of the various atrocities or barbarities perpetrated under the ” allah u akhbar ” war cry .

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