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What happened to Shamima Begum’s friends? Where are east London IS brides Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase now

The three schoolgirls travelled to Syria in 2015 to join the Islamic State terror group

Shamima Begum travelled to Syria with her friends to join IS in 2015 (image: PA)

The case of Shamima Begum has proved divisive in the UK.

She travelled to the Middle East to marry an Islamic State (IS) fighter in 2015, when the terror group controlled vast swathes of Syria and Iraq.

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While the organisation lost its last bit of territory in 2019, it has shown signs of a resurgence in recent months - although its latest leader was killed by the US in February.

Over the last three years, Ms Begum has said she is not an IS supporter and has urged the UK Government to allow her to return to London, where she grew up.

Shamima Begum travelled to Syria to join IS in 2015 when she was a teenager (image: Getty Images)

But who exactly is she - and what happened to the other two schoolgirls who travelled with her to join IS?

Here’s what you need to know.

Who is Shamima Begum?

Shamima Begum is a 22-year-old woman from east London who travelled to Syria to join Islamic State when she was a teenager in February 2015.

At the time, the extremist Islamist group was at the peak of its powers and controlled an area roughly the size of the Republic of Ireland across both Syria and Iraq.

When the teenagers fled to Syria, IS was at the peak of its powers under its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (image: AFP/Getty IMages)

Ms Begum, who was 15 when she left the UK, and two schoolfriends - Amira Abase (15) and Kadiza Sultana (16) - travelled to the caliphate’s capital, Raqqa.

The trio had been studying for their GCSEs at Bethnal Green Academy, London - where they were described as being "straight-A students".

It is believed they were groomed over social media.

During her time under IS rule, Ms Begum married a Dutch IS fighter and had three children - all of whom have passed away due to illness and malnutrition.

She was found in the Al-Roj prison camp in North East Syria in 2019 and remains there almost three years on from Islamic State’s military defeat.

Shamima Begum has made the case to be repatriated through TV interviews (image: PA/ITV)

Ms Begum has not been found guilty of breaking any laws and there has been no indication of how long she will be detained in the prison camp.

In February 2022 it emerged she was selling food parcels in a bid to buy Western clothes that would make her stand out from other women in the camp, some of whom still support IS.

What has Shamima Begum been accused of?

Ms Begum has repeatedly called on the Government to allow her to return to the UK to clear her name in the courts.

The Government has said her return would pose too much of a security risk and has cancelled her British citizenship - a move criticised at the time by human rights groups, like Liberty.

But the decision has been backed by some who argue Ms Begum effectively revoked her own right to live in the UK by joining a terrorist organisation that openly targets the West with attacks.

As well as travelling to Syria to join IS, Shamima Begum has been accused of taking part in atrocities for the terrorist group - an accusation she denied in a wide-ranging interview with Sky News that was published on Monday (22 November).

The 22-year-old told the broadcaster, "I’m willing to fight [the charges] in a court of law but I’m not being given a chance."

Shamima Begum and her two friends were brought up in Bethnal Green, east London (image: Getty Images)

Addressing the fears that she could pose a security threat to the UK if she was brought back to face justice, she told Sky, "I didn’t hate Britain, I hated my life really.”

"I felt very constricted, and I felt I couldn’t live the life that I wanted in the UK as a British woman."

What happened to Shamima Begum’s friends Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase?

Of the three girls who travelled to Syria in 2015, Ms Begum is currently the only-known survivor.

Kadiza Sultana was believed to have been killed in a Russian air strike on Raqqa in August 2016.

Her family said at the time that the teenager had become disillusioned with life in Syria and was hoping to return to the UK.

The fate of Amira Abase is unknown, although Ms Begum said in 2019 she had stayed in IS’s last stronghold Baghuz.

It is understood she married an Australian jihadi named Abdullah Elmir, whose nickname was "Ginger Jihadi" because of his long red hair.

He is believed to have been killed in 2015.

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