News World How Melbourne schoolgirl Zehra Duman became Australia’s first ISIS bride

How Melbourne schoolgirl Zehra Duman became Australia’s first ISIS bride

zehra duman citizenship
Melbourne-born Zehra Duman is set to fight the government's plan to strip her of Australian citizenship. Photo: SBS
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She was Australia’s first ISIS bride.

In November 2014, Zehra Duman was a 19-year-old high school dropout who fled Melbourne to give her life to the caliphate.

Ms Duman, now 25, rubbed shoulders with Australia’s other high-profile jihadis.

She was best friends with Tara Nettleton, the wife of Khaled Sharrouf, and became an avid recruiter for the group – convincing other women to leave their home countries to fight a Holy War in the Middle East.

She married a martyr, bore two children and often posted online about killing kafir (non-Muslims) and the glory of living and dying for ISIS.

Pictures on social media showed Ms Duman surrounded by women wearing niqābs, holding AK-47s and sitting on fancy cars.

Ms Duman married ‘playboy’ ISIS fighter Mahmoud Abdullatif, who was killed. Photo: AAP

At the height of the group’s reign of terror the ISIS bride boasted she wouldn’t ever return to Australia.

And on Tuesday The New Daily’s Samantha Maiden revealed she never would – after the Australian government stripped her citizenship.

In March Ms Duman resurfaced among the thousands of women and children at the notorious al-Hawl refugee camp after fleeing the last vestiges of the ISIS caliphate.

Her situation is emblematic of the difficult position the Australian government finds itself in as it works out what to do with the remaining 66 women and children stranded, living in squalor and pleading to return home.

Ms Duman would post pictures of ISIS brides with fancy cars. Photo: Twitter

Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton recently announced a plan to strip citizenship from dual nationals – Ms Duman also holds a Turkish passport.

The former Isik College Keysborough student sneaked out of Australia and into Syria to marry the Melbourne party boy turned Jihadi extremist, Mahmoud Abdullatif.

Abdullatif had travelled to Syria months earlier, leaving behind his penchant for partying and replacing gym sessions with prayer sessions – swapping a string of girls for guns.

Upon her arrival, Ms Duman and Abdullatif married, posting on social media a picture of their dowry which included an automatic weapon for the new bride.

Abdullatif asked to back up his marriage with “a beautiful death”.

“I got married today,” he wrote. “alhumdolileh (praise be to god) I made hijra (pilgrimage) and got married here man, insha Allah I receive a beautiful death as well.”

Ms Duman soon began to spruik extremist propaganda over social media while her relatives back home watched in horror.

Ms Duman celebrated ISIS women in her social media posts. Photo: Twitter

Her father, Davut Duman despaired that his daughter had been “brainwashed” as she became a vocal supporter of the group.

Under the moniker Umm Abdullatif Australia, she posted about killing Australians.

In one tweet, she wrote: ‘US + Australia, how does it feel that all 5 of us were born n raised in your lands, & now here thirsty for ur blood?’

In other posts, she wrote “catch me if you can” and called for her followers to poison kuffar.

“Stab them and poison them. Poison your teachers, go to haram restaurants and poison the food in large quantities,” she wrote.

Ms Duman posted on Twitter using a moniker. Photo: Twitter

When Abdullatif died fighting five weeks after they married she celebrated, calling him a green bird – a term used to describe martyrs.

“Till we reunite in Jannatul Firdaws (heaven) my dearest husband,” she posted on social media. “You won the race! Heart of a green bird insha’Allah Habibi.”

But after his death, Ms Duman’s social media presence soon fell silent, and her whereabouts became unknown – until she popped up in al-Hawl.

The young woman who had been a zealous supporter of the Islamic State now wanted to come home, saying she had spent the past two years trying to flee with her children but had no way of getting out.

In a video obtained by the ABC, the woman, who was believed to be Ms Duman, said she wanted to bring her two-year-old son and six-month-old daughter back to Australia.

“Both of my kids are sick. [My daughter is] very malnourished, she’s … very skinny,” she said.

“I have no money, I’m not allowed to have money. They don’t give us food here and they don’t let us contact our families.

“I understand the anger that they have towards a lot of us here, but the kids don’t need to suffer. My kids have a right at least to be treated like normal kids.”

Ms Duman (centre) with aid workers from the Free Burma Rangers in Syria. Photo: Twitter

Her situation created a divisive debate, with some arguing she should have her citizenship stripped to protect national security.

Others argue Australia needs to uphold principles of democratic civilisation and put them on trial here.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison took a hard-line stance while admitting the children made it complex case.

‘”This will be a very complex case and Australia will make decisions consistent with our national security interests,” Mr Morrison said.

“Obviously the issue of the children involved is also a very sensitive one. The children can’t be held responsible for the crimes of their parents.”

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