Brits who joined ISIS and where they are now – from hellhole jail to brutal camp

Hundreds of Brits flocked to join ISIS after the terror group began to seize vast swathes of territory across the Middle East.

Initially formed in 2004, the terrorists did not achieve notoriety until their brutal expansion across Iraq and Syria in 2014.

At the peak of its powers, ISIS controlled 34,000 square miles of land.

However, its jihadis were gradually driven back by local fighters backed by world powers – with the last "caliphate" crushed in Baghuz, Syria, in March 2019.

During this time, it recruited thousands of fighters with slick propaganda.

Many of ISIS’ high ranking jihadis were wiped out in drone strikes or captured by rival fighters.

Here, the Daily Star looks at some of its most notorious British members.

Shamima Begum

Shamima Begum was just 15 when she and two other east London schoolgirls travelled to Syria to join the terror group in February 2015.

She married Dutch extremist Yago Riedijk, who later surrendered to fighters allied to the Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF].

During her time with the terror group, Begum lost a son and daughter.

Her British citizenship was revoked on national security grounds shortly after she was found, nine months pregnant, in the squalid al-Hol refugee camp in Syria in February 2019.

Begum’s third child, a baby boy less than three weeks old, passed away from pneumonia the following month.

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Sheikhmous Ahmed, an official with the Kurdish administration responsible for refugees and camps, earlier said that assassinations and rape are just some of the issues that blight the al-Hol.

Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that she should not be allowed back to the UK to pursue an appeal.

Begum insists that she did not know or support the brutal crimes committed by ISIS, including the rape, torture, and beheadings.

In a new documentary The Return: Life After ISIS, which began filming in 2019, Begum asked Britain to allow her to return.

She said: "I would say to the people in the UK, give me a second chance because I was still young when I left.

"I just want them to put aside everything they’ve heard about me in the media."

Jihadi Jack

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Jack Letts converted to Islam and left Britain for Syria in 2014 when he was 18, ditching school in Oxfordshire.

The dual UK-Canadian citizen and ISIS member was captured by Kurdish forces as he tried to flee Turkey in May 2017.

Letts was stripped of his British citizenship and left stranded in Syria in 2019.

In October that year, footage emerged purporting to show Letts lying on the floor of an overcrowded jail in the north of the country.

Jack was seen in the video alongside dozens of ISIS prisoners who were all wearing orange jumpsuits.

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Mum Sally Lane pleaded with the Government to let him face trial in the UK.

She told the Mail on Sunday: "It’s heart-rending to see your son like this and to feel so completely powerless.

"We have been pressing the Red Cross for months to tell us what the jail is really like, but they always refuse, saying that to release this information would jeopardise their access.

"I suppose I always hoped Jack was exaggerating, but now it’s clear that he wasn’t – and that it’s worse than my worst nightmares."

Jihadi John

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Mohammed Emwazi was born in Kuwait in 1988 and taken to Britain by his family when he was six years old.

He got a degree in computer programming in London before working for an IT company in Kuwait.

Emwazi rose to notoriety in 2014 when he presented the beheading of American journalist James Foley.

The twisted killer, who became known as Jihadi John, presided over the decapitation of several foreign hostages.

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He spoke with a London accent in the disturbing videos while brandishing a knife, issuing threats to Western countries.

In November, Emwazi was charged with 26 offences of murder and five offences of hostage-taking by British prosecutors.

However, he was killed by a US-British airstrike that month in Raqqa, Syria.

ISIS-published Dabiq magazine later said he had "achieved shahadah [martyrdom]".

Sally Jones

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Sally Jones took her son JoJo Dixon with her when she left Kent in 2013 after being brainwashed by jihadi Junaid Hussain.

Jones used to be a guitarist in an all-girl punk band and had another 20-year-old son who remained in Britain.

She and JoJo remained with the death cult after Hussain’s death in 2015.

Jones became a recruiter for the "Raqqa 12" and Jojo joined the Cubs of the Caliphate's youth ranks.

In October 2017, CIA reports suggested she had been killed in a drone strike on Raqqa in June.

ISIS jihadi Alexanda Kotey instead asserted that died in May 2017 during the bombardment of Syrian town al-Mayadin.

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Kotey told ITV News: "There was a building that was shelled, she lived in the building.

"It was shelled following the incident in Manchester, which I believe was a retaliation.

"There were families in the building, it was a government building. [40] people were dead as a result… including Sally Jones and her son."

Alexanda Amon Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh

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Kotey, 36, and El Shafee Elsheikh, 32, were part of a terror cell known as 'The Beatles', which also contained Jihadi John.

They admitted to holding and abusing hostages while part of the group, led by Emwazi.

According to allegations in a US indictment, they were ISIS fighters from 2012 to 2015 and abducted American and European hostages in a campaign of terror.

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The US Department of Justice said they "engaged in a prolonged pattern of physical and psychological violence against the hostages".

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said: "Kotey and Elsheikh are alleged to have committed horrific crimes in support of ISIS, including hostage-taking resulting in the deaths of four American citizens.

"Their alleged acts have shattered the lives of four American families. What each of these families have sought more than anything else is for these defendants to have their day in court."

They were captured by the SDF in 2018 and will face trial in the US in January 2022.

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