The Facebook profiles embedded in the original version of this story have been deactivated and replaced with screenshots of the pages. "All of those pages have been removed as they violate our standards, which don’t permit terrorist groups to use our site," Facebook communications manager Andrew Souvall confirmed.
Twenty-year-old Aqsa Mahmood recently made headlines around the world when her parents revealed that she had run away from her home in Scotland and traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and marry a militant.
Like many young women, Mahmood has several social media profiles, including a Tumblr page (which she has been updating regularly from Syria) under the name Umm Layth.
A look at her blog's archive reveals her intense interest in Islam and apparent desire to become a jihadi. It also shows communications with other like-minded women, such as the one below, which was posted before Mahmood left her home in November 2013.
Mahmood's first Twitter account, @UmmLayth_, has been deactivated, but since November 18, 2013, she has been tagged in images and posts by other young men and women who claim to be living in Syria.
The women refer to immigrating to the "Islamic state" as “hijrah,” or pilgrimage. Posts on Twitter indicate that she planned the journey with other young women she met online.
In Syria, Mahmood began updating her blog with descriptions of her life as a member of ISIS. In April 2014, she posted that she had set up a new Twitter account.
The account and its interactions indicate that it's likely being run by an English-speaking young woman living in Syria.
Tumblr posts and tweets indicate that Mahmood has married a "mujahid", the word ISIS fighters use for themselves.
(Mahmood's parents have confirmed that she is now married.)
An examination of the accounts followed by Mahmood's purported pages reveal communications with many other young women who claim to be ISIS members living in Syria.
A Facebook search of the usernames followed by Mahmood's account yields similar results. The women of ISIS appear to have established networks across social media platforms, which they use to connect with one another and recruit other women.
Some use Ask.fm to answer questions about the process of traveling to Syria to join the insurgency.
The instant messaging app KiK is how these women communicate with those seriously considering making the journey.
Interested parties are directed to online guides with step-by-step instructions on how to get to ISIS-controlled territory — including advice on how to deceive Turkish customs agents.
On multiple platforms, the women of ISIS offer advice and encouragement to those debating joining the group.
This online support is necessary, since some women make the journey without their family's permission. In a blog post, Mahmood explains how to deal with familial pressure.
The first phone call you make once you cross the borders is one of the most difficult things you will ever have to do. Your parents are already worried enough over where you are, wether you are okay and what's happened. How does a parent who has little Islamic knowledge and understanding comprehend why their son or daughter has left their well off life, education and a bright future behind to go live in a war torn country. Most likely they will blame themselves, they will think they have done something. But until they truly understand from the bottom of their heart that you have done this action sincerely for Allah's sake they will live in hope that you will return. They might assume this is a 'phase' you are going through or a huge mistake you have made. I know of people who have been here in Shaam for over 2 years and their parents still try to persuade them to come back and live in false hope. Make Duaa that Allaah makes it easy for your parents to understand and accept your Hijrah feesabeelilah.
Sometimes it would be easier for you to accept your parents disowning you and wanting nothing to do with you.
However when you hear them sob and beg like crazy on the phone for you to come back it's so hard. Wallahi it's so hard to hear this and I can never do justice to how cold hearted you feel. But as long as you are firm and you know that this is all for the sake of Allah then nothing can shake you inshaAllaah.
The posts by these women — many of whom claim to have traveled to ISIS-occupied Syria from Western countries — provide a chilling look into the everyday lives of these female militants.
Under ISIS' rule, women are required to cover themselves in public. The niqab, a head covering that only reveals a woman's eyes, is mandatory.
Some women appear to have chosen to cover up more than is required, adding gloves and additional veils so none of their skin can be seen.
Sharia law is strictly enforced, according to the women.
(Islamic law dictates that the punishment for stealing is the loss of a hand.)
All work ceases for the daily prayers.
Polygamy is practiced, they say.
And it appears from the women's posts as if some non-Muslim women are kept as slaves.
These posts and images from ISIS women are at times surprisingly familiar, such as this Instagram-like sunset photo.
Or this food picture by "Umm Musab," whose Twitter profile reads: "american [sic] muhajira living in the blessed land of Sham (Syria)."
The selfie culture merges with the culture of jihad.
Weapons are featured prominently.
Many of the most active women of ISIS on social media claim to be UK citizens.
Although they don't claim to have any loyalty to their homelands.
In an update to her blog on Thursday, Mahmood echoed this sentiment, vowing that she and her fellow insurgents would only return to their homelands "to raise our flag."
All of us disassociated ourselves from our families, friends and societies. We make it known to the world that never has our allegiance been to the Scottish, British, Swedish, American, Canadian etc…. government. Wallahi we are free of those living in the West who know and proclaim the Shahadah while being beneath the feet of the Kuffar. Ittaqullah.
Know this Cameron/Obama, you and your countries will be beneath our feet and your Kufr will be destroyed, this is a promise from Allah swt that we have no doubt over. If not you then your grandchildren or their grandchildren. But worry not, somewhere along the line your blood will be spilled by our cubs in Dawlah. We have conquered these lands once Beithnillah we will do it again. Read up on your History, and know that it will repeat itself, you will pay Jizyah to us just like you did in the past. This Islamic Empire shall be known and feared world wide and we will follow none other than the Law of the one and the only ilah!
So our answer to our passports being confiscated? Wow wallahiil Adheeem biggest joke of this week. The only time we will ever, ever return to those lands beithnillah is to raise our flag.
The Facebook page Diary of a Muhajirah provides a fascinating look into this society and the ISIS way of life. The blogger is a Western woman who originally travelled to Syria to work as a doctor.
In one post, the woman, who calls herself Bird of Jannah, describes her arranged marriage to her militant husband two months after she arrived in Syria. They met and were married on the same day.
Her posts suggest the marriage is a happy one.
Marriage to a fighter is essentially a requirement for all women who join ISIS. Since they are forbidden from engaging in armed combat, their primary role appears to be taking care of their husbands, and, eventually, children.
Unmarried women live in a group home called a "maqar" until their marriages are arranged and approved.
Mahmood explains this to female would-be jihadis on her blog. "It's most appropriate and better for the sisters to get married sooner."
I have stressed this before on twitter but I really need sisters to stop dreaming about coming to Shaam and not getting married. Wallahi life here is very difficult for the Muhajirat and we depend heavily on the brothers for a lot of support. It is not like the west where you can casually walk out and go to Asda/Walmart and drive back home… even till now we have to stay safe outside and must always be accompanied by a Mahram.
Even though we are living in land which is under the control of Doula, there are still a lot of munafiqeen roaming the streets openly. Unless of course if you have family here, if your father or brother is here then it is a different situation. Regardless, it's most appropriate and better for the sisters to get married sooner.