Monday, July 7, 2014

The life of a jihadi wife: Why one Canadian woman joined Iraq and Syria Islamic state

Taha Shade, a Palestinian living in Sweden, adopted the name Abu Ibrahim al-Suedi when he joined the jihadist uprising in Syria. He married Canadian Umm Haritha in late 2013, but was killed by a rival jihadi in May 2014. (Facebook)
Eight months ago, Umm Haritha, a 20-year-old woman from Canada, made her way to Turkey against her parents’ wishes with a half-empty suitcase and $1,500.

Within a week she was in Syria, and a few weeks later she was married to Abu Ibrahim al-Suedi, a 26-year-old Palestinian from Sweden fighting for Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Sunni jihadist group battling the Syrian regime.

It is not clear whether Umm Haritha's marriage to Abu Ibrahim was arranged before her travel to Syria. Regardless, it only lasted five months.

On May 5, Abu Ibrahim, whose real name is Taha Shade, was in a car en route to a meeting in Deir ez-Zor with members of rival faction Jabhat al-Nusra. What was meant to be a gathering to finalize a peace treaty between ISIS and al-Nusra turned deadly when an al-Nusra fighter on a motorbike sped up to Shade’s car and detonated his explosive belt.

At the time, Shade was wearing his own explosive belt, which also went off and blew him to pieces.

Two days later, Umm Haritha tweeted about her husband’s death, calling on “Allah” to “destroy those who backstabbed the brothers and resurrect Abu Ibrahim with noor [light] from every piece of his body.”

Umm Haritha’s journey to Syria highlights an underreported part of the western Jihadist experience in Syria.

While the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) has estimated that up to 2,800 Western men have gone to Syria to fight, much less is known about the Western women who have gone over to marry jihadists since the Syrian civil war began three years ago.

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