Two missing Somali girls from Nairobi’s South C area may have joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) also known simply as the Islamic State (IS), the Islamic terror group that is spreading terror across vast swathes of Syria and Iraq. The girls Salo Abdalla and Tawfiq Abdahir have been missing from home since Wednesday last week when they are said to have gone to Nairobi Muslim Academy in South C.
The management of Nairobi Muslim Academy however denies that they could have gone to the institution since it was closed owing to the floods that hit the area last week. The mothers of the missing girls Khadija Abdalla and Rahma Abdhan told Citizen TV reporter Evelyne Wambui that they have been trying in vain to get in touch with them. Tawfiq, known as Tawfy to her friends, had a phone on her when she went missing and the gadget was last traced to Nairobi’s Pangani area.
Fears that the girls have joined ISIS were sparked by a screenshot of a SMS message reportedly sent by Tawfiq to her cousin in which she appears to say she is now in Syria.
A message from the one of the two Kenyan missing girls highlighted on TV yesterday… seems they joined ISIS in Syria pic.twitter.com/fnHmPL4M0t
— john chege (@johnchege) May 18, 2015
Friends and acquaintances of the two families have been expressing their concerns as the news of the girls’ current location and apparent radicalization has spread.
I feel sorry for their mothers pic.twitter.com/eWjGdOl2lw
— Fuwadii (@fuwadii) May 18, 2015
Am still in shock, I feel sorry for mama Rahma who is like a fam, she was crying since 13th thinking her daughter was kidnapped — Fuwadii (@fuwadii) May 18, 2015
I hope you’re safe wherever you are #tawfy
— bilan (@idhil_ahmed) May 18, 2015
Coming in the wake of the attack on Garissa University College which was carried out by at least one university-educated Kenyan national, the news that the girls have joined ISIS, if confirmed, will reawaken fears that the specter of radicalization is a clear and present danger in Kenya.
@fuwadii radicalization is real bro! I couldn’t believe about Ababmo, Calipso and Atom…now girls too? man! New dimensions!
— Midoh Boss (@MidohB) May 18, 2015
The news also raises concerns about how effective terrorists have become at targeting potential recruits through the internet right under the noses of their parents.
Kenya:if girls or boys are going to join ISIS/Shabaab etc- the most important thing is to find out why rather than judge/berate them
— samira sawlani (@samirasawlani) May 18, 2015
Kenya is not alone in confronting this challenge. The BBC documentary “Britain’s Jihadi Brides” reveals how young girls – some as young as 15-have been groomed on the internet by ISIS recruiters. The girls are lured from the UK through promises of a paradise-like existence in ISIS controlled areas where they don’t have to worry about taxes or bills for the rest of their natural lives.
But there is dark side to this “paradise”. The girls are promised husbands but its often the case they wont have a say on who they marry. ISIS fighters have been known to show no mercy to the people of the areas they conquer, raping girls as young as 12. Its not a stretch to assume they would treat their “brides” with the same barbarity. Reports have also emerged about how the girls are forced to remarry after their husbands are killed in battle.
How the girls in university brain washed to go to Syria to become maid or wives to people who slit throat for a living is beyond me
— Fuwadii (@fuwadii) May 18, 2015
ISIS appears to be actively trying to get recruits from Kenya and the wider East African region. Two Kenyan ladies and Tanzanian companion were arrested last month while trying to sneak into Somalia with the aim going of going to Turkey and eventually Syria. The Kenyan girls Khadija Abubakar Abdulkadir and Maryam Said Aboud – both 19 – were arrested together with Ummul Khayr Sadir from Zanzibar who is reportedly a medicine student at International University of Africa in Khartoum. The girls are currently on trial in Kenya and have reportedly told investigators that they were recruited on the internet by a female ISIS agent.