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Parents beg 'sweet child' who married Islamic State extremist to come home

THE parents of a "bedroom radical" who married an Islamic State fighter in Syria have condemned her actions and pleaded with her to come home "while she still can".

OFF THE RADAR: Aqsa Mahmood deleted her Twitter account when her identity was revealed.
OFF THE RADAR: Aqsa Mahmood deleted her Twitter account when her identity was revealed.

Khalida and Muzaffar Mahmood said they had given 20-year-old Aqsa, from Glasgow, "everything" - a private education, happy home and "all the chances in life" - yet she had become radicalised and used by terrorists.

The former pupil at one of Scotland's leading independent girls' schools, Craigholme in Pollokshields, Glasgow, left her homeland last November and married the militant insurgent in Syria in February.

She has been using a Twitter account, under the name @ummlayth, to promote terrorism, calling on people to "follow the examples of your brothers from Woolwich, Texas and Boston."

The family's lawyer Aamer Anwar read a ­statement on the couple's behalf yesterday, in which they said there was no one to blame for Aqsa's actions. They said she had betrayed her family, her brother and two sisters, and "the people of Scotland."

The statement said: "She may believe that the jihadists of Isis are her new family but they are not and they are simply using her.

"We were horrified when we heard that out daughter had become radicalised and moved to Aleppo in Syria. We always had high hopes for her and would have loved for her to become a doctor and save lives.

"Isis are killing in the name of our religion and claim to defend the weak but by joining them, our daughter is brainwashed and deluded and helping those engaged in genocide.

"There is no fundamentalist preacher that can be blamed for her radicalisation. Aqsa like many young people in our community was naturally annoyed and frustrated at the loss of innocent lives in the Middle East but this is not the way.

"If our daughter who had all the chances and freedoms in life could become a bedroom radical, then it is possible for this to happen to any family."

The parents, from Dumbreck, described Aqsa - who dropped out of Glasgow Caledonian University within two months to flee to Syria - as a "very sweet, peaceful, intelligent child" who was given "everything possible in terms of love, freedom, and education."

Their statement added: "She chose a path we could never approve of.

"All parents want to be proud of their children but sadly we now feel nothing but sorrow and shame for Aqsa.

"We are not in denial and do not make any excuses for her and absolutely condemn her involvement in Isis and recent comments."

Since her exposure on Tuesday as an Isis recruit, Aqsa has failed to make any appearance or statement on social media.

Mr Anwar said they had decided to make the statement as a direct appeal to Aqsa, who shut down her Twitter account after her story was reported nationally.

He said that since she left home her parents had only had online contact with her.

The human rights lawyer, said the parents would be scouring social media in the coming months for signs their daughter was still alive.

He added: "All contact now appears to have been terminated with their daughter, so they are hoping that this plea will go out to their daughter and she will think again and return.

"We are liaising with Police Scotland, family ­liaison officers are going to be appointed to liaise regularly.

"Obviously the situation in Syria is critical and families up and down this country have similar concerns and are wanting their children to return home."

Their family's statement ended: "We feel we have lost our child.

"Aqsa, you have torn the heart out of our family and changed our lives forever, please come home."

The student, who is of Pakistani heritage, allegedly began developing radical Islamist beliefs when she was at school and started wearing a hijab.

She began posting tweets in reference to the extremists who killed soldier Lee Rigby in London and set off a bomb at the finish of the Boston Marathon.

Contextual targeting label: 
Families

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