One of the three British schoolgirls who made headlines last year when they fled their London homes to find husbands in the Daesh extremist group is believed to have been killed by a Russian airstrike, a British television channel reported Thursday.
The ITV News channel also said that the schoolgirl — Kadiza Sultana, 17 — had become “disillusioned with life in the medieval terror state” and had been planning to return to Britain.
Kadiza is believed to have been in a residential building in Raqqa, the Daesh’s de facto capital in northeast Syria, when it was hit in May by a bomb thought to have been dropped by a Russian warplane, ITV said in an article on its website.
ITV said its report was based on communications with her relatives in east London, with unidentified contacts in Raqqa and with a lawyer for her family, Tasnime Akunjee, who it said had been helping to work on an escape plan for her.
The channel’s report said her family had been “informed of Kadiza’s reported death by other people in Raqqa and confirmed details in a statement to ITV News”.
Kadiza’s relatives could not immediately be reached for comment. Akunjee, in a brief telephone interview, confirmed the substance of the ITV account but said he did not know with certainty whether she had been killed.
“This did not come from any official sources,” he said. “I can’t tell you where the information came from. I suspect it’s true. But I don’t know for a fact that it’s true. Nobody knows for sure anything, because it’s a war zone.”
Kadiza and her companions, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum, who were both 15 when they joined Daesh in February 2015, became symbols of the organisation’s ability to lure foreign women to marry its jihadi fighters. Their disappearance in Britain stunned the nation.
The three were known as the Bethnal Green schoolgirls, after the neighbourhood where they grew up. Their relatives made desperate public pleas for help, and some travelled to Istanbul. They hoped to follow their trail for more information after it had become clear that the girls had flown to Turkey and caught a bus to the border with Syria, where they were smuggled into territory held by Daesh.
ITV said it was believed that all three wed foreign recruits, not Syrian members. It said Kadiza’s husband was thought to have been a US citizen of Somali descent who died late in 2015.