LONDON—To her family, Aqsa Mahmood was an intelligent and popular teenager who helped care for her three younger siblings and her grandparents at her home in Scotland. She listened to Coldplay, read Harry Potter novels and drank Irn Bru, a Scottish soft drink.
Though she aspired to be a pharmacist or a doctor, she left home in November 2013 to go to Syria, and the authorities now say she is one of the most active recruiters of young British women to join the Islamic State.
The authorities are investigating possible links between Mahmood, who goes by the name Umm Layth (meaning Mother of the Lion), and the disappearance last week of three teenagers from London. They, too, are believed to have traveled to Syria to join the terrorist group.
The apparent trend of studious, seemingly driven young women leaving home to join violent jihadis has become disturbingly familiar.
A Metropolitan Police official said Monday that one of the girls, Shamima Begum, sent a Twitter message to a woman on Feb. 15, a couple of days before they left Britain, but declined to disclose her name.
Experts who track jihadi activity online, including Audrey Alexander at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization, in London, have identified that woman as Mahmood, 20, who left her home in Glasgow in November 2013. (Continue Reading.)
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Aqsa Mahmood: From Harry Potter Fan to ISIS Recruiter
How does a young girl who loves Harry Potter and Coldplay become a recruiter for ISIS? I have a theory.