The recent sting by The Sun newspaper, in which a reporter posed as a 24-year-old British woman to gain access to a Daesh fighter in Syria, makes for chilling reading.
The journalist managed to gain the attentions of Abu Usamah al-Britani, a radicalised British man who travelled to Syria to join Daesh. During their extensive communications, he groomed the ‘girl’ by mainly using soppy emoticons and pledging his love for her.
But he also attempted to excite her with his ‘power’ by admitting he dreams of becoming a ‘head chopper’. He messaged this to the undercover reporter using a bloody knife emoticon.
A recent article in UAE’s The National explored why women would fall for these lies. It concluded that western women are often disillusioned with modern relationships and crave a more traditional home life of marriage, children and being ‘treated like a queen’.
Al-Britani tapped into this need, promising her a better life and a better future.
Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
We know of the horrifying systematic abuse of women in Daesh-controlled territory. Women are often raped, forced to become sex slaves, or murdered.
The Sun’s article exposes the real risks of radicalisation our young women face. Our daughters, sisters and mothers can so easily be targeted.
The sting followed another case involving the same Daesh fighter, Abu Usamah al-Britani, who tried to recruit former ‘Page 3’ model Kimberley Miners over the summer.
Interrogated about her dealings with the terrorist, Miners said she had holidayed in Turkey twice and had visited a refugee camp close to the Syrian border. This sparked her interest in Syria’s civil war. However, this turned into an interest in Daesh and soon Miners was sharing violent extremist videos online. Miners had even set up social media accounts under the alias “Aisha al-Britaniya”.
Asked if she supported Daesh, Miners said: “We get told that they are there to protect the religion. I don’t really know – that’s what’s got me into trouble.”
It is cases like this that remind us that no one is out of reach of the extremists, who look for any opportunity to reach vulnerable women in our communities.
Of the estimated 600 British Muslims who have travelled to join Daesh, around 60 are thought to be young women. We must educate ourselves about how the extremists target and groom our young women so we can step in before it’s too late.
At WARN, we can help you keep your children safe from online grooming.