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Shamima Begum: As ‘ISIS Bride’ Shamima Begum loses UK citizenship battle, know what happened to her

The government’s decision to pull Shamima Begum of her British citizenship has been upheld, as her legal challenge against it was unsuccessful.

On February 11, a court dismissed the argument that the British government had unlawfully revoked Shamima Begum’s citizenship. Since the decision was made by former home secretary Sajid Javid in February 2019, the former Bethnal Green schoolgirl had been trying to regain her passport.

During a hearing in November of last year, Samantha Knights KC, Shamima Begum’s barrister, argued at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission in London that her client had fallen victim to a “determined Islamic State propaganda machine” that enticed her to Syria when she was just 15 years old. It was at that same age that she, along with 16-year-old Kadiza Sultana and 15-year-old Amira Abase, left the UK.

In the same year, the trio joined the Islamic State group, and since then, Shamima Begum has gained significant media attention for her efforts to reclaim her British citizenship and come back to the UK. Recently, there have been claims that she was secretly taken into Syria by a Canadian spy.

While much attention has been given to Shamima Begum’s story, relatively little is known about the two other girls who left the UK with her as teenagers. All three girls were married to members of the Islamic State group, but their paths diverged from there. Here’s a closer look at what has happened to Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana since they left the UK.

What is IS-K and what is its relationship with Taliban?

​What is ISIS-Khorasan?

The carnage from twin suicide bombings at Kabul airport will fuel fears that a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan could prove an increasingly powerful magnet for terror groups like Islamic State. The bombings, claimed by the regionally based Islamic State-Khorosan or IS-K, killed scores of people including 13 US soldiers, and were carried out despite multiple, site-specific intelligence warnings that such an attack was imminent.

​Who joined this group

Months after the Islamic State declared a caliphate in Iraq and Syria in 2014, breakaway fighters from the Pakistani Taliban joined militants in Afghanistan to form a regional chapter, pledging allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The group was formally acknowledged by the central Islamic State leadership the next year as it sunk roots in northeastern Afghanistan, particularly Kunar, Nangarhar and Nuristan provinces.

​Name and number

The latest estimates of its strength vary from several thousand active fighters to as low as 500, according to a UN Security Council report released last month.

‘Khorasan’ is a historical name for the region, taking in parts of what is today Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia.

​What kind of attacks has it carried out?

The Islamic State’s Afghanistan-Pakistan chapter has been responsible for some of the deadliest attacks of recent years. It has massacred civilians in both countries, at mosques, shrines, public squares and even hospitals. The group has especially targeted Muslims from sects it considers heretical, including Shiites.

​What is IS-Khorasan’s relationship with the Taliban?

While both groups are hardline Sunni Islamist militants, there is no love lost between them. They have differed on the minutiae of religion and strategy, while claiming to be the true flag-bearers of jihad.

That tussle has led to bloody fighting between the two, with the Taliban emerging largely victorious after 2019 when IS-Khorasan failed to secure territory as its parent group did in the Middle East. In a sign of the enmity between the two jihadist groups, IS statements have referred to the Taliban as apostates.

Amira Abase Amira Abase was married to Abdullah Elmir, an 18-year-old Australian Islamic State fighter who was nicknamed the “Ginger Jihadi” due to his red hair. Elmir was killed in a drone strike in December 2015, shortly after Ms. Abase had left the UK. After leaving the UK, Ms. Abase maintained contact with her mother through social media. However, these messages suddenly stopped, and her mother stated to the media that she believes her daughter is deceased. While Shamima Begum has expressed her belief that her friend is still alive, Ms. Abase’s mother holds a different opinion.

Kadiza Sultana Kadiza Sultana, the oldest of the three teenagers, also remained in contact with her family after leaving the UK, which was captured in phone calls filmed by ITV News.

After marrying an American ISIS fighter, Ms. Sultana claimed to be a housewife, while intelligence sources alleged that she was involved in stitching explosives into suicide vests. In the ITV News footage, Ms. Sultana’s sister said that she sounded “very terrified.”

Ms. Sultana is believed to have died in a Russian airstrike a few weeks after the phone calls in May 2016, but this has not been independently confirmed.

Years later, Shamima Begum publicly discussed her friend’s presumed death, saying, “At first, I was in denial. I thought, if we died, we’d die together.”


  1. Where did Shamima Begum live in the UK? London

  2. When did Shamima Begum leave home to visit Syria? 2015

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