Glasgow ‘jihadist’ Aqsa Mahmood denies recruiting London girls
The parents of a so-called “jihadi bride” from Scotland have said their daughter denies recruiting three London girls to the cause of Islamic State.
Khalida and Muzaffar Mahmood told the BBC they were in touch with 20-year-old Aqsa Mahmood last week.
They said she insisted she had not been in touch with the Bethnal Green girls.
The couple condemned her decision to travel to Syria and their solicitor criticised the UK authorities for failing to find those who helped her.
Mr Mahmood said: “She sent us a message last week, maybe last week or the week before, regarding these girls (from Bethnal Green).
“The media was saying that she is the one who recruited. She said she doesn’t even know their names, how can you believe what they are writing?”
Mr Mahmood said his daughter’s Twitter account had been stopped in November.
He added: “She wasn’t in contact with these girls and now the media are saying that she was in contact with them, that she was the one who recruited.
“We feel it wasn’t her. It’s other people doing it. It wasn’t her at all. She was very angry with me.”
Mr Mahmood was asked about contact on Twitter between one of the missing London schoolgirls and his daughter.
It has been reported that Shamima Begum, 15, one of the three Bethnal Green schoolgirls who travelled to Syria, had sent Ms Mahmood a message on social media.
Mr Mahmood said this went no further: “She never replied to her. She never replied her back and that’s what we want to know. Tell us, show us the evidence if she did.
“Her account is closed so she told us that she wasn’t in touch with any of them, she doesn’t even know their names.”
Mrs Mahmood said her daughter was “very loving” and had made “a big mistake”.
She said her daughter was “not born like this” and she wanted to know who had made her that way.
The couple’s solicitor Aamer Anwar said the British authorities had questions to answer over who was helping young people into Syria and said Ms Mahmood was being held up as a “sacrificial lamb”.
“If Aqsa Mahmood is the Isis poster girl responsible for recruitment and radicalisation, I am astonished that the British authorities have not contacted the Turkish authorities to say that there are other girls that may be in danger,” he said.
“Surely the British authorities would want to know who were the other girls that were with Aqsa because that would take them back to who recruited and radicalised and provided the practical assistance for teenagers to leave this country and go and join Isis.
“There’s no point in the assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police dangling the name, the sacrificial lamb of Aqsa Mahmood, at a home affairs select committee, and then for the family not to know who is actually providing the assistance.”
Ms Mahmood, who was privately educated in Glasgow, is reported to have encouraged terrorist acts via social media using the pseudonym Umm Layth, and to have promised the installation of a worldwide Islamic caliphate or Empire.
‘Pick a side’
Comments attributed to her on Twitter called on people in Britain to repeat terrorist atrocities seen in Woolwich and the US.
Posts under the name Umm Layth on the blogging site Tumblr include a message to the leaders of the US and UK that “you and your countries will be beneath our feet and…will be destroyed” and that “your blood will be spilled by our cubs”.
The posts also offer advice to would-be “jihadi brides” including bringing a good pair of boots from the west for the freezing winters as well as suggesting that “married sisters or soon to be married” bring make-up and jewellery.
They also urge “brothers and sisters who are stuck in the west” to “hasten, hasten hasten to our lands” to defend Islam.
“This is a war against Islam” one post from the account of Umm Layth reads, adding “you’re with them or with us. So pick a side”.
When Ms Mahmood was first suspected of helping the three Bethnal Green girls her parents said she was a disgrace to her family.
In a statement at the time the Mahmood family said they were “full of horror and anger that their daughter may have had a role to play in the recruitment of these young girls to Isis”.
And in a message to Aqsa they said: “You are a disgrace to your family and the people of Scotland, your actions are a perverted and evil distortion of Islam.
“You are killing your family every day with your actions, they are begging you stop if you ever loved them.”