Umm Muthanna Al Britaniyah’s venomous outbursts on the Internet not only glorify the murderous acts of Islamic State militants but also aim to lure young British women to travel to Syria as suitable jihadi brides. The evil matchmaker, who has been identified as 22-year-old Tooba Gondal, happens to be a former student from London and the daughter of a successful businessman. Her transformation from a happy schoolgirl about to start college to a cheerleader in hijab flaunting an AK-47 for the notorious terrorist organization has taken the world by surprise.
The above picture, accompanied by a tweet, reading, “Living the life,” is only an example of her many terrifying posts.
Over time, instead of focusing on furthering her education, Gondal started to express her desire to become a martyr in a suicide bombing. Through her outrageous posts on social media, she started commanding a powerful influence over her followers, as she continued to groom and urge them to travel to Syria to marry bloodthirsty Islamic State militants.
In one of her online rants, Gondal went on to describe Britain as ‘a filthy country’ and praise the Paris attacks of November 2015 that left over 130 dead.
“EXPLOSIONS AND SHOOTINGS… 80 dead. And all praise is due to Allah Almighty. #ParisUnderAttack… Wish I could have seen the hostages being slaughtered last night with my own eyes. Would have been just beautiful,” she said.
In May 2015, under the pseudonym Fatima, Gondal urged a British teenager she met online to travel to Syria and join Islamic State. She even asked the teenager to meet one of her own relatives, whom she had already groomed to travel to Syria. The plan was to take a flight to Switzerland before heading to Istanbul, from where the duo would travel by land to reach Syria’s border. However, the plan fell apart after the teenager Gondal thought she was grooming turned out to be an undercover reporter. The newspaper went on to alert the police and officers of Prevent, the deradicalization unit of Scotland Yard.
Exactly how Gondal—a resident of Walthamstow in East London—started endorsing the barbarism of Islamic State militants from their stranglehold in Raqqa, Syria, is not clear but hers is not another story of an alienated, hopeless youth searching for a way out of dire circumstances. Gondal happens to be the eldest daughter of a successful businessman, who topped all subjects at the local secondary Kelmscott School despite being ‘a typical teenage rebel’. A photograph of Gondal in her 2010 yearbook shows her wearing a hijab to school.
Speaking to Atheist Republic, a former classmate of hers said, “She was a rebel. She did come to school with the headscarf, but she would then take it off. She also liked sneaking out of her house.”
Gondal apparently even smoked at school and had a string of affairs, often promoting boy bands and pop music – all of which seemed like a far cry from the jihadi makeover she was soon going to undergo.
The friend, who did not wish to be identified, said she kept in touch with Gondal via social media during their college years, but it was not until two years ago that she started noticing significant changes in her.
“She started posting verses of the Koran on Twitter, and talking about religion. I just don’t know what brought it on,” she said.
At some point in the five years since the above photograph was taken during a school mock interview, Gondal transformed from a regular teenager with many dreams to live for to a young adult who yearns nothing more than death.
“I came here to die. I will not leave till I get what I came here for: shahadah [martyrdom],” she tweeted last summer after acquiring a suicide bomber’s vest.
Her shocking radicalization almost certainly took place online, as she continues to carry out Islamic State’s bid for new recruits across social networking platforms under the alias Umm Muthanna Al Britaniyah. Gondal’s posts and photographs attempt to glamorize jihad and encourage her followers to leave Britain so they can live in the self-declared caliphate. She is one of approximately 60 British women who have fled to Syria to join Islamic State.
After school, Gondal had enrolled herself with the prestigious Goldsmiths College, University of London, to study English. An analysis of her social media accounts revealed that in November 2012, when Gondal was still a student at Goldsmiths College, she claimed to have reverted back to Islam. There is some evidence that Gondal may have been involved with the Islamic Society at Goldsmiths College, also known as ISOC, which does have the reputation of being a radical hotbed.
However, when Atheist Republic asked ISOC about Gondal, its spokesperson denied any knowledge of her, saying, “I have never heard the name, nor have any idea who this individual may be.”
Gondal has been residing in Raqqa since her arrival in Syria in January 2015. Media outlets continue to track her social media accounts, as she has emerged as one of the most popular British female ambassadors for Islamic State, regularly posting pictures and messages from Syria. Tweeting via @Umm_Muthanna, which is now a suspended account, Gondal initially refrained from revealing her true identity. However, since last year, she started leaving clues about herself, informing her thousands of followers, mostly young British girls, that she is a 21-year-old of Pakistani origin from East London. Comparing web addresses and cross checking details revealed in her social media posts, investigators were able to track Gondal after discovering only one woman of that name residing in London.
At the time of the Paris attacks, Gondal had dropped yet another clue that helped investigators identify her.
“Burn Paris burn. Can’t believe that is my birthplace,’ she tweeted, adding, “LOL HOW SCARED ARE THESE KUFFAR [non-Muslims].”
Her former friends in London confirmed that Gondal did in fact live in France before her family decided to move to the United Kingdom.
While Gondal was planning to leave for Syria, she lived with her family in a palatial six-bedroom house in Wanstead, a luxuriant suburb on the outskirts of East London. Her white-gated family home has a large driveway as well as a swimming pool in the backyard. By the time Gondal left for Syria however, her family had already shifted to a more modest property in Walthamstow. Together, the properties are worth approximately £1.5million and are owned by Gondal’s father Mohamed Bashir, who runs several shops across London, including a halal meat shop.
A month after fleeing to Syria, Gondal tweeted how she had managed to escape British authorities without raising an alarm.
“Hey UK security, how do you feel that your citizen left your filthy country whilst listening to Salil as-Sawarim [a jihadi song] on the plane? Pathetic,” she said.
According to investigators, Gondal even married a notorious jihadi of Lebanese origin. Abu Abbas Al-Lubnani, who too recruited jihadi brides from the United Kingdom, was exposed by British media for systematically grooming two teenage girls in London only days before Gondal fled to Syria. He had reportedly arranged for a married couple to meet the would-be jihadi brides at a discreet location in East London so they could hand over money sent from Syria to pay for the teenagers’ travel. However, the two teenagers he had been communicating with were in fact undercover journalists and the couriers were soon exposed by the publication. Gondal was most likely groomed online by Al-Lubnani until she finally joined him in Syria.
For a brief while, she adopted the role of a homemaker, happily cooking shami kebabs for her newly married husband.
At the time, Gondal tweeted, “What more could you want than to be able to raise the next generation of lions in Islamic State who will go on to spread Islam.”
However, Al-Lubnani was soon found dead in Hasakah, a town at the Syrian-Iraqi border that was formerly controlled by Islamic State.
Following his death, Gondal tweeted, “My husband Abu Abbas Al-Lubnani… got shahadah [martyrdom] in #Hasakah.”
Last month, Gondal’s father confirmed that she had in fact fled to Syria. The 56-year-old devout Muslim even revealed that Gondal has been living in the Syrian region of the self-declared caliphate. When asked how he had no clue about Gondal’s plans, her father said he would have stopped her had he known.
In broken English, he said, “I don’t know, if I know, she no go. If I know, she’s no go.”
He refused to answer any further questions, saying his daughter was safe where she was.
“My sins terrify me,” Gondal tweeted days before her account was suspended. “Everyone around me is getting shahadah. Ya rabb [Oh, Lord]! When will it be my turn? When will I unite with my husband?”
While the Metropolitan Police and Kelmscott School refused to comment, a spokesperson for Goldsmiths College, University of London, said they would fully comply with their legal responsibilities under the Government’s Prevent Strategy.
Photo Credits: ce399