Three runaway British schoolgirls who are feared to have joined Islamic State militants in Syria are being trained for special missions, a female terror commander claimed today.
The woman said she looked after the east London pupils – Shamima Begum, Amira Abase, both 15 and Kadiza Sultana, 16 – and taught them how to behave when they arrived in February.
The 22-year-old, who defected from ISIS days ago, said she was surprised how naive they were, noting that they were once reprimanded by a bus driver for showing their faces.
She told how she delivered the girls to the terror group’s stronghold of Raqqa where they were now taking part in a training programme for terror assignments.
Speaking to Sky News reporter Stuart Ramsay from a secret location in Turkey, she said: ‘These girls, because they are very young, they want (need) four or three months to start (missions).’
Ominously, she claimed the girls would never be allowed to return home, adding that they were destined to ‘die in Iraq or Syria’.
Police launched an international manhunt for the three Bethnal Green Academy pupils after they fled Britain from Gatwick on February 17.
Members of their families, who appeared before a committee of MPs in March, claimed they were normal schoolgirls who watched shows including Keeping Up With The Kardashians.
It is understood they were following another 15-year-old girl who travelled there in December.
Concerns about how Turkish authorities dealt with the disappearances were later raised by their families.
The former ISIS commander, who calls herself Um Asmah, said of the girls: ‘They was very happy to come to Syria in Ar-Raqqa and meet the most people of Daesh (Islamic State).
‘I think it is interesting to them.’
Her comments came as a new report suggested that ‘terror twins’ Zahra and Salma Halane, 16, from Manchester ‘have taken on influential roles’ within the group of British women who have travelled to the war zone, including urging others to join them.
The Metropolitan Police believe around 600 Britons have travelled to Syria and Iraq since the conflict began, and around half are believed to have returned to the UK.
The report released today by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) says that the Halane sisters, who arrived in Syria in July, married ISIS fighters and were widowed since arriving in the country via Turkey and have been further radicalised by the experience.
In Till Martyrdom Do Us Part: Gender And The ISIS Phenomenon, authors Erin Marie Saltman and Melanie Smith wrote that the twins ‘form a particularly vocal sub-cluster of the British female migrant contingent’.
They added: ‘Throughout many months of monitoring, it is apparent that the Halane twins have taken on influential roles within the cluster of British women who have journeyed to ISIS territory.
‘However, Zahra and Salma occupy distinct roles within this community.
‘While both encourage other “sisters” to join them and actively revel in terrorist attacks on Western soil, Salma appears to contemplate upon the evolution of her life in Manchester to her life in the ISIS as a continuum, whereas Zahra appears to have separated these two episodes entirely – rarely making mention of personal details or referencing family.
‘Through the (albeit murky) lens of social media, it is obvious that the Halane twins have radicalised further during their time in ISIS territory, particularly since the death of their husbands.’