Glasgow girl who travelled to Syria ‘brainwashed’

Aqsa's family held a press conference which her mother Khalida Mahmood and father Muzaffar Mahmood attended. Picture: John Devlin
Aqsa's family held a press conference which her mother Khalida Mahmood and father Muzaffar Mahmood attended. Picture: John Devlin
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THE parents of the Scot who wed an Islamic State fighter in Syria and encouraged terrorist attacks on Britain have said she is “brainwashed and deluded”.

Mr Muzaffar Mahmood and his wife Khalida Mahmood said their daughter Aqsa had “betrayed us, our community and the people of Scotland.”

Aqsa Mahmood. Picture: Contributed

Aqsa Mahmood. Picture: Contributed

Aqsa Mahmood, 20, a former pupil at a private school who dropped out of university and travelled to Syria via Turkey last year, has tweeted statements urging Muslims in Britain to carry out “another Woolwich”, a reference to the savage murder of soldier Lee Rigby.

In February, Aqsa Mahmood married a fighter from Islamic State (IS or Isis), the terrorist organisation that now controls swathes of Syria and Iraq, and is behind a series of atrocities including the beheading of two American journalists.

The family had been in contact with their daughter through social media but contact ceased on Tuesday after details of her involvement with the Islamic State was revealed.

In a statement read out by the family’s solicitor, Aamer Anwar, her parents said: “Aqsa was always a very sweet, peaceful, intelligent child and inquisitive about everything. We had high hopes for her and would have loved for her to be a doctor and to save lives. We dreamed that one day we would see her married with children, but sadly that no longer looks likely.

“As parents, we would have liked her to listen to us but we gave her everything possible in terms of love, freedom and education and she chooses the path which we could never approve of.

“Isis are killing in the name of our religion and claiming to defend the weak but, by joining with them, our daughter is brainwashed and deluded and helping those engaged in genocide. There is no smoking gun, no family member, no fundamentalist preacher that can be blamed for her radicalisation.

“We have spent months asking ourselves the question whether we could have done better and we still do not know the answer. Aqsa, like many young people in our community, was naturally angry and frustrated at the loss of innocent life in the Middle East but this is not the way to help.

“If our daughter, who had all the chances and freedom in life, could become a bedroom radical then it is possible for this to happen to any family. But she is our daughter and we still love her, fear for her life and would urge her to return home whilst she still can.”

As Mr Anwar continued to read the statement, Aqsa’s distraught mother, Khalida, fought to hold back tears at her daughter’s actions.

Mr Anwar added: “We still love you, Aqsa, but we now have to put your family, your brother and sisters first as you have betrayed us, our community and the people of Scotland when you took this step.”

Aqsa was educated at Craigholme, a private girls’ school in Glasgow’s southside. She went on to study diagnostic radiography at Glasgow Caledonian University.

However, she dropped out last November to travel to Syria via Turkey, after growing increasingly angry about the war in Syria. She phoned her family a week after her departure to tell them of her destination and they at once informed Police Scotland.

The family later learned through social media of her marriage in February to an IS fighter but this means of contact was terminated on Tuesday after her activities were revealed.

In one of her tweets, under the new name Umm Layth, which carries a picture of the black flag of the Islamic State, she declared: “Follow the examples of your brothers from Woolwich, Texas and Boston. If you cannot make it to the battlefields, bring it to yourself.”

In an online diary, she wrote of her admiration for women who declare their “desires and cravings to participate in the battlefield and give away your blood”.

Yesterday, her parents urged her to return: “We know that in the days and months ahead we will be scouring the social media for clues of whether our daughter is still alive.

“As we try to hold back the tears today, we feel we have lost our child. Aqsa, you have torn the heart out of our family and changed our lives forever. Please come home.”

The position of the Scottish Government is that the UK Government, through the security services, takes the lead on dealing with potential British terrorists.

However, a government spokesman said yesterday: “Scotland has robust measures in place to help safeguard people who may be vulnerable to radicalisation or at risk from any form of extremism and we remain constantly vigilant.

“We are cooperating closely with partner agencies, not just in the UK, because the threat of global terrorism and global extremism is not defined by borders or boundaries.”


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