By Khaleda Rahman and Victoria Allen
2 September 2014
This is the Scottish private schoolgirl who travelled to Syria to join Islamic fighters – and is calling on Muslims to carry out a bloody atrocity on British streets.
Glasgow-born Aqsa Mahmood, 20, is the daughter of a successful businessman and was educated at a top private school in the city.
Last year she abandoned a university course to join fanatical Islamic State jihadists fighting in Syria.
Since then she has tweeted a series of radical messages, including a call for others to copy the shocking murder of soldier Lee Rigby, the Boston Marathon bombing and the massacre at the Fort Hood US Army base in Texas.
As fears grow over British Jihadis returning home to carry out terror attacks, the Prime Minister yesterday announced new powers to seize extremists’ passports.
Since travelling to Syria, Mahmood has got married and has been tweeting descriptions of her humdrum life of cooking, cleaning and looking after children.
However, on Twitter she uses the name Umm Layth and her profile carries a picture of the black flag of brutal terrorist group Islamic State.
Shockingly, she has also posted jihadist propaganda, including one message in June this year saying: ‘Follow the examples of your brothers from Woolwich, Texas and Boston.
‘If you cannot make it to the battlefield, then bring the battlefield to yourself.’
Last night, Police Scotland and the security services confirmed they were aware of Mahmood.
Her involvement with radical Islam and her decision to travel to Syria stunned her family and friends.
Her father built up thriving businesses after coming to Scotland from Pakistan and Mahmood was sent to exclusive Craigholme School. At that time friends remember a Westernised girl, who loved make-up and clothes and liked to gossip with fellow pupils.
One ex-school friend said: ‘She wasn’t different. She got on with everybody. As soon as she decided to do something she would never change her mind. I guess that was something that was amazing about her, but also one of her downfalls.’
In her fifth year, Mahmood became more interested in Islam and began wearing the Hijab. She began buying religious books, taking classes and chatting to people about Muslim ideology over the internet.
Mahmood left Craigholme after failing to get into university and went to study at the nearby Shawlands Academy, a mixed state school.
A school friend there said Aqsa was a ‘usual, typical girl’. He added: ‘At school she had a lot of friends. She was a really confident person, she could talk to anyone she wanted, clever as well. Just the usual Asian Muslim girl.
‘I would say she was a moderate Muslim. I find it really bizarre, knowing her from school and then her suddenly being part of Islamic State.’
After Shawlands, Mahmood began a course in diagnostic radiography at Glasgow Caledonian University but dropped out in order to travel to Syria.
Friends did not know she had travelled to the Middle East, although Mahmood, who was very interested in politics, had spoken about wanting to go there to ‘help’ in the fight against Bashar Assad’s regime.
A security source said the Glasgow girl was one of an increasing number of western women travelling to Syria in order to provide a support network for organisations such as Islamic State.
The source said there was no indication such individuals took part in any of Islamic State’s frontline activities – but that this might change in future.
Last night, Mahmood’s father answered the door at the family’s sandstone villa, but refused to comment.
A Police Scotland spokesman said: ‘A 19-year-old female from Scotland was reported missing to us by her family in November 2013. Inquiries are ongoing in relation to her whereabouts and we are supporting her family.’