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Scots 'jihadist bride' goes to ground after being identified

FOR months she has been ­tweeting support for Islamist violence on the streets of Britain while encouraging other Western women to join her in war-torn Syria and marry a jihadist.

TWITTER CAMPAIGN: Aqsa Mahmood, who was reported missing last year.
TWITTER CAMPAIGN: Aqsa Mahmood, who was reported missing last year.

Using the name Umm Layth, a mysterious Scottish woman has been blogging of her new life on the wrong side of the world's war on terror, mixing exhortations to Holy War with nostalgia for Irn-Bru.

Yesterday she was finally silenced - her Twitter account deleted - as her identity was revealed as a university drop-out and former private schoolgirl called Aqsa Mahmood, sparking bile on social media and high security for her Glasgow family,

The 20-year-old, as Umm Layth, had praised the Boston marathon bombers and those responsible for the massacre at Ford Hood in Texas and the beheading of ­Drummer Lee Rigby in south-east London. "Follow the examples of your brothers from Woolwich, Texas and Boston," she tweeted. "If you cannot make it to the battlefield, then bring the battlefield to yourself."

Believed to be in a city in Aleppo province controlled by Islamic State, she has posted pictures of the terror group's flag and of unidentified veiled figures said to include the Canadian widow of a Jihadi fighter, Umm Haritha.

But as reporters got closer to unveiling her, Umm Layth blogged: "By the Lord of Kabah, know that whoever gave away my details have affected my ­family's security."

Earlier, pestered by social media requests for interview from international broadcasters, she had tweeted: "These journalists are like dogs searching for bones."

Police are understood to be offering advice to Ms Mahmood's family, including her businessman father Muzaffar, in their home in an upmarket part of Dumbreck, on Glasgow's southside. Family members answered the door at the four-bedroom house, in a desirable part of Glasgow's south side, but declined to answer questions.

Police Scotland later confirmed the 20-year-old had been reported missing in November last year while insiders said she was understood to be "in the Syria conflict zone". Her family, through the police, issued a statement: "We had no knowledge of our daughter's plans to leave Scotland and immediately reported her as a missing person to the police.

"Aqsa is a studious and ambitious girl and we cannot understand why she has travelled to Syria. We are struggling to come to terms with the situation and we are working with the police."

The naming of Ms Mahmood came as Prime Minister David Cameron announced plans for a crackdown on Britons who go to Syria to fight, including controversial measures to stop them returning. There is no evidence Ms Mahmood took part in fighting, although she is thought to have married in the region over the winter.

The former student at Glasgow Caledonian University and ­Craigholme School for girls made it clear in her social media activity that she was mostly doing domestic work. In advice for would-be brides, she said: "You can find shampoos, soaps and other female necessities here, so do not stress if you think you will be experiencing some cavewoman life here. I have experienced far too much luxury than I was expecting.

"Your day will revolve around cooking, cleaning, looking after and sometimes even educating children ... We are created to be mothers and wives."

Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House last week confirmed some Scots had gone to Syria but declined to say how many. He too stressed there were variety of reasons for entering the conflict zone, where hundreds of thousands have died and millions have been forced to flee their homes.

Lawyer Aamer Anwar last night warned against assuming that Ms Mahmood had committed any offence, saying: "There are lots of reasons why people may travel to a conflict zone, including humanitarian ones."

The only picture of Umm Layth is impossible to identify as Ms Mahmood as her face and head are covered. Another woman Umm Haritha is also named in the picture's caption. She sparked major media coverage in Canada earlier this summer after her Jihadi husband, Taha Shade, a Palestinian-born Swede, was killed in May. Both Ms Mahmood and Umm Haritha, who also claims to have had a westernised middle-class upbringing, appear to be in Manjib, close to the ­Turkish border.

Mazhar Khan, of the Scottish Muslim Council, repeated his organisation's appeal to young Muslims to stay at home - and out of both danger and trouble. He said: "Islamic State is not a legitimate organisation. There are impressionable and idealistic young people who fall in to their utopian trap but our advice is that if you want to help Syria, give to a charity."

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