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

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

Since her discovery in Syria just before Islamic State (IS) fell in spring 2019, Ms Begum has repeatedly pleaded to be allowed to return to the UK to clear her name in the courts.

Sign up to our NationalWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But the Government has said she poses too great a security risk to be allowed to return to the country she left as a teenager and has cancelled her British citizenship.

It is a move that has been criticised by human rights groups like Liberty, but backed by those who argue she effectively revoked her own citizenship by joining a terrorist organisation.

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

So who exactly is Shamima Begum, what is she accused of doing - 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 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.

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.

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)

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 Syria in 2019 and is now being held in a prison camp in the north east of the country.

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.

What has she been accused of?

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?

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.

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our email newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.