British girls lured by 'attractive' jihadis, says former extremist

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 03, 2015 14:07 IST

"Attractive" jihadist fighters can be "eye candy" to lure British Muslim girls, a former extremist has told BBC Newsnight.

The former extremist said she was taught to see Britain as a "kuffar (non-Islam) nation" that had killed many Muslims and was "our enemy", BBC reported on Tuesday. She now rejects that ideology, but said her ex-allies would regard the militant known as "Jihadi John" as an "idol", the BBC report said.

"As a teenager, I wanted to get my piece of eye candy and I'd take a good look, and all the YouTube videos, for some reason, they (the militants) were all really, really attractive," the former extremist said.

Now in her early 20s, she was first contacted by extremists when she was a student aged 16-17. She said a man had sent her a Facebook message saying she was "very attractive" and telling her: "Now's the time to cover that beauty because you're so precious."

She said the message was "bordering on harassment" but it was the "best way I could have been targeted" because it played on her religious beliefs and told her she would "end up in hell" if she did not obey.

"It was like, get with him before he dies. And then when he dies as a martyr you'll join him in heaven."

She was radicalised before the rise of Islamic State (IS), which has taken control of parts of Iraq and Syria, and was attracted by al Qaeda and al-Shabab.

She said she was told to view British women as "disgusting" and "practically like men". But she eventually rejected these ideas.

She said the two main things which drove her away from the ideology was that it did "no justice to women" and it said followers "have to go and kill someone that's non-Muslim".

She said her old associates would praise Mohammed Emwazi - known as "Jihadi John". The British is a militant who has apparently featured in videos showing the beheading of several Western hostages.

"They'd definitely consider him a role model," she said. "He is someone they would be really proud of."

Three schoolgirls recently left the UK, apparently to join militants in Syria - leading to questions over why British girls would make that choice.

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