The family of a British woman who was radicalised while studying in Kenya have appealed for her to be allowed to return home after being severely injured in a coalition attack on Islamic State.
London born Samia Hussein was captured when Islamic State’s final stronghold Baghouz fell in March. It has been reported she had lost an arm and was left badly mutilated after a suspected British or US drone missile strike.
She is believed to be being held at the Kurdish run al-Hol camp in northern Syria, from where she called her family three weeks ago to tell them she was still alive.
Born to Somali-born parents at Central Middlesex Hospital, Miss Hussein’s family moved to Southall, where she attended Villiers High School. After completing her GCSEs, she decided to continue her studies in Kenya where she took her A-levels at a Nairobi college while living with her step-father. Then she went on to study for a degree at the city’s United States International University – Africa (USIU).
It has been claimed that during her studies at the university, Miss Hussein fell under the influence of Muslim extremists. The university has students from over 75 nationalities at its campus in Nairobi and it has been reported that she was persuaded her to join the extremists on the pretext of carrying out aid work.
In the autumn of 2015, she disappeared and her family claim they heard nothing from her until a week later, when her mother received a text saying she was being held against her will and desperately wanted to escape.
Last year’s European Institute of Peace report warned that while Islamic State had not sent experienced fighters to Kenya to establish operational cells, it had recruited individuals there and sent them on to conflict-ridden countries such as Somalia and Syria.
Since 2015, the Kenyan authorities have noted a trend among university students to join the terrorist group after being recruited online via social media platforms.
During the recent phone call, Miss Hussein told her family she had lost her left arm and part of her breast when her home in Islamic State territory was struck during an air strike, but it is believed she was reluctant to provide more details about her situation because she feared her call was being monitored. Following fears of reprisals from women in the refugee camp who are still loyal to the terrorists, her family have appealed to the Foreign Office to help bring her back home.
The Foreign Office have said they would not comment on individual cases, but have pointed out there is no consular presence in Syria, which makes it difficult to offer any assistance to British nationals in the area.