Tareena Shakil

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Tareena Shakil
A glamourous Tareena Shakil, after her deradicalization, via BBC
A glamourous Tareena Shakil, after her deradicalization, via BBC
Born 1989 (age 32–33)
Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, UK
Nationality UK
Other names Tareena al Amirah
Occupation health care worker
Known for travelled to Daesh-occupied Syria
According to The Intercept this image of Shakil, published in The Sun, on October 14, 2014, was widely republished, making her the first Bride of ISIS to be well-known.

Tareena Shakil is an United Kingdom citizen, who travelled to Daesh-occupied Syria, and then denounced the Daesh ideology.[1][2] She is the first UK bride of ISIS to be convicted for her association with Daesh.[3]

A one-hour documentary about Shakil, entitled, “Tareena: Return from ISIS,” premiered in November 2021.[4] The film was made shortly after her parole expired. Her parole barred her from talking to journalists.

Shakil describes being covertly encouraged to travel to Syria, and now describes herself as being duped. She took her young son with her when she travelled to Syria, in 2014. She was then confined to a barracks with other women, waiting to be picked as the wife of a Daesh fighter. She found the barracks confinement disillusioning. She described two other young women, who didn't fit in, "disappearing". After some months of confinement she was able to escape, and travel back to the United Kingdom.

UK authorities confined her, upon her return.[1] UK authorities, citing social media posts she made, charged her with "supporting terrorism". She was the first UK woman to be convicted for her travels to Syria.

At her trial her Defence described her as vulnerable to recruiting as she was recovering from her first marriage, which had been characterized by domestic violence.[5] That marriage ended when her first husband left the UK to live in Yemen. At her trial prosecutors asserted that following suspected terrorists, on social media, established that Shakil herself was a terrorist.[6]

Shakil was quietly released on parole, in the summer of 2019, after serving approximately half her sentence.[7] However, press scrutiny of Shakil was triggered during the controversy over Shamima Begum, another UK woman, who married a Daesh fighter.

Russell Dennison, an American convert to Islam who became a Daesh fighter, had maintained a clandestine correspondence with American journalist Trevor Aaronson.[4] From that correspondence Dennison had described a brief marriage to Shakil, but Shakil didn't acknowledge that marriage until she spoke about it in a documentary that premiered in November, 2021. Aaronson said his marriage to his first UK wife was one of the few topics Dennison was willing to speak of, in detail. Aaronson did quote what Dennison would say about her:

“This girl, she just rushed into coming to Syria. When she came, she missed her mother, and she wanted to go back to Britain. And you know, some of these sisters, they do that — they talk to men online. They get excited. They see these Islamic State videos, and they just leave everything, and then they come, they see there’s bombings, there’s killing, there’s war, and they can never go back. So this woman ended up returning back to Britain. There’s nothing else really to say about her.”[4]

Shakil has expressed her gratitude to those who played a role in her deradicalization, and has said she hopes her story will serve as a cautionary tale, and help others avoid following her example.[8][9]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Poonam Taneja (2021-12-16). "Tareena Shakil: IS mother 'regrets everything' about Syria journey". BBC News. Archived from the original on 2021-12-16. https://web.archive.org/web/20211216151105/https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-birmingham-59668973. Retrieved 2021-12-16. 
  2. Poonam Taneja (2021-12-16). "Tareena Shakil: Birmingham mother 'ashamed' of joining IS". BBC News. Archived from the original on 2021-12-16. https://web.archive.org/web/20211216112028/https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-england-birmingham-59670376. Retrieved 2021-12-16. "After several months in Syria, Ms Shakil says the brutal reality of life under IS became apparent and she escaped back to the UK. She was arrested when she landed at Heathrow Airport and later jailed for six years." 
  3. Samuel Osborne (2016-02-01). "Tareena Shakil: British woman who took toddler to Syria sentenced to six years in jail for joining Isis". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2019-04-27. https://web.archive.org/web/20190427143937/https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/tareena-shakil-isis-syria-daesh-islamic-state-is-toddler-jailed-six-years-a6846346.html. Retrieved 2021-12-16. "Tareena Shakil, 26, is thought to be the first British woman convicted of terrorism offences after returning from Syria." 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Trevor Aaronson (2021-11-15). "British wife of American wife of American ISIS fighter Russell Dennison dodges questions about union: In a new documentary, Tareena Shakil, whose marriage to Dennison was first revealed in an Intercept podcast, describes her journey to the Islamic State.". The Intercept. Archived from the original on 2021-12-04. https://web.archive.org/web/20211204083257/https://theintercept.com/2021/11/15/tareena-shakil-american-isis/. Retrieved 2021-12-16. "The injury prevented him from being an effective fighter, so in 2014 he settled down in Raqqa and visited a matchmaker in a house filled with dozens of single women waiting to be married. Dennison wanted a Syrian wife, but the ISIS matchmaker preferred to arrange marriages between foreign men and foreign women. He suggested to Dennison a young British woman who’d come to Syria with her 1-year-old son." 
  5. Caroline Mortimer (2016-01-29). "Tareena Shakil guilty: Woman who took toddler son to Syria to join Isis convicted". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2019-04-27. https://web.archive.org/web/20190427143949/https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/tareena-shakil-woman-who-took-her-toddler-son-to-syria-to-join-isis-convicted-a6842386.html. Retrieved 2021-12-16. "Shakil claims her extremist messages on social media and to her family were being monitored by Isis minders and she was unable to criticise the regime." 
  6. Richard Vernalls (2016-01-25). "Tareena Shakil: Woman who took toddler to live with Isis 'escaped after realising she had made mistake'". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2019-04-27. https://web.archive.org/web/20190427143953/https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/tareena-shakil-woman-who-took-toddler-to-live-with-isis-escaped-when-threatened-with-death-a6832671.html. Retrieved 2021-12-16. "A woman accused of taking her toddler son to Syria to join a feared terror group has told a court she "made a mistake" going to live in the so-called Islamic State." 
  7. Lizzie Dearden (2016-02-15). "Tareena Shakil: British woman who took toddler to Syria sentenced to six years in jail for joining Isis". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2021-04-03. https://web.archive.org/web/20210403070949/https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/tareena-shakil-isis-bride-uk-prison-jail-release-syria-son-terror-a8780891.html. Retrieved 2021-12-16. "Her relatives told The Mirror she is currently living in Birmingham under licence conditions, after being released last summer because she had served half of her sentence, including time on remand." 
  8. "Daesh mother ‘regrets everything’ about Syria journey". Arab News (London). 2016-02-01. Archived from the original on 2021-12-16. https://web.archive.org/web/20211216142405/https://www.arabnews.com/node/1988121/world. Retrieved 2021-12-16. "Shakil, from Birmingham, has now been released from prison and has completed a de-radicalization program. She said she hopes her story will be a warning to others." 
  9. Helen Kreft; Kate Buck (2021-12-16). "British mum, 32, who ran to Syria to join ISIS with son says she 'regrets every last thing'". The Mirror. Archived from the original on 2021-12-17. https://web.archive.org/web/20211217003417/https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/british-mum-32-who-ran-25720497. Retrieved 2021-12-16. "Tareena said de-radicalisation had been 'a long journey', but she hopes her story will serve as a warning about the 'dangers of extremism'."