Strange things happening every day, as Sister Rosetta Thorpe once sang, and that is especially true when it comes to the bizarre world of Islam. It’s sometimes necessary, in reading these stories of Muslim goings-on, to believe six impossible things before breakfast. That’s how I felt when I read recent news about Tareena Shakil, a Muslim who was living a perfectly normal Muslim life (if such can be said to exist) in the UK when she up and left to join ISIS. Robert Spencer wrote about her briefly here, and more on her trajectory from ISIS recruit to would-be “It girl” — a fashion influencer on social media – can be found here: “From ISIS to It Girl: British woman who joined ISIS becomes fashion influencer,” Jerusalem Post, April 30, 2023:
Tareena Shakil was no innocent young thing when she set off for Syria to join ISIS. She was an adult — 26 years old. Shakil knew exactly what ISIS was all about. She admits that before crossing into Syria, she was aware of ISIS’s brutality and had seen the group’s propaganda videos showing the beheadings of American journalists and British aid workers. “It’s not something I’m happy about now, looking back,” she explains. “But at the time, the only thing I can say is that, you know, I was far from the best version of myself at that time.”
“Far from the best version of myself at that time” – yes, that’s quite an understatement. But now you are a “good version” of yourself, so all should be forgiven.
Shakil explains that her journey to ISIS started as a result of her unhappiness with her first husband, a conservative Muslim who expected her to dress modestly and refrain from using social media. “It wasn’t a particularly happy marriage,” Shakil says.
Unhappy with her “conservative Muslim husband,” she went off to jon the most reactionary Muslims on earth — the fanatics of ISIS. She clearly has trouble thinking straight.
Shortly after their son’s birth, Shakil’s husband traveled to Yemen. He allegedly threatened to stay there, marry another woman, and establish a new life. Shakil started communicating on Facebook with a handsome Portuguese man named Fábio Poças, who was an ISIS fighter in Syria. “Yeah, he was attractive,” Shakil admits. Within weeks of meeting Poças online, Shakil posted an ISIS flag on her Twitter and Facebook profiles. She then traveled with her toddler son to Turkey. After arriving at a city near the Syrian border, she called a phone number Poças had given her. A van took her and her son to a deserted patch of land along the border. She was told to run to a white truck waiting on the Syrian side. “That was the first time that I’d seen, in real life, the black flag,” Shakil remembers.
Her journey to join the cutthroats began with her hearing the come-hither siren song of sex: “Yeah, he [Fábio Poças, an ISIS fighter who “met” Shakil online] was attractive.”
So at the age of 26, and thus not an impressionable juvenile, she moved to Syria to join ISIS. Did the mass rapes of Yazidi women and girls make her change her mind? No. Did the mass killings of Yazidi men, and Shiite believers, and Christians, and insufficiently fanatical Sunnis finally get to her? Again, no. Was she put off in the slightest by the balaclava-clad bezonians of ISIS, waving their rifles triumphantly, and Allahu-akbaring, after their latest massacre? Not in the slightest. Tareena Shakil has never expressed remorse for joining ISIS or trying to persuade others to do so. She simply alludes, self-forgivingly, to her having made “the wrong choices.” She joined ISIS looking for a husband, and found one, albeit not the “attractive” Portuguese, Fábio Poças.
In Syria, she was put in a camp with a group of women, all of them hoping to marry ISIS fighters. Some of them were themselves religious fanatics, and others, like Tareena Shikil, may not have been fanatics, but were indifferent to the atrocities committed by ISIS fighters; having joined ISIS, they were looking for love in all the wrong places. While she was in Syria, Shakil met an ISIS matchmaker. The matchmaker arranged her marriage to an American convert to Islam and ISIS fighter, Russell Davison, who would later be killed in an American airstrike. Shakil, who lied constantly to British authorities when she was back in the UK, would later claim not to have married him, but changed her story once the evidence of that marriage was shown to her. The marriage was soon effectively over; Davison was off fighting, and besides, he wasn’t nearly as handsome as the Portuguese fighter who had first drawn her to Syria.
After three months, Tareena Shakil decided she had had enough. She left the camp in Syria chastened by her experience, and made it, with her toddler still in tow, to Turkey and then, eventually, back to the UK, which I hesitate to describe as her “home.” Let’s just say that it’s the place where she was raised, in a Muslim cocoon. What impelled her to leave ISIS still isn’t clear. Perhaps hearing about, or even being forced to watch, mass executions was difficult to stomach. Or perhaps it was something more prosaic — the difficulty of taking care of her fourteen-month old baby, given the primitive conditions of the ISIS camp she had been assigned to live in. Perhaps the right-sized diapers and infant formula proved hard to find midst all those rifles and knives and Yazidi sex slaves and decapitations. And besides, that Portuguese heartthrob was nowhere to be found. He was apparently an online recruiter for ISIS, using his good looks to lure Muslim girls and women living in the UK to join ISIS in Syria.
The British authorities arrested her upon her arrival back in the UK. Although at first she claimed that she had been kidnapped and taken to Syria against her will, it was later discovered that she had indeed joined of her own volition. She was put on trial for joining the most frightening and dangerous of all Islamic terrorist groups, a group dedicated to murdering every Infidel they could find. But that wasn’t all she was charged with. It turns out that once in Syria, she tried on social media to persuade other Muslim women to leave the UK, join ISIS as she had done, and commit acts of terrorism. She was sentenced to six years in prison, a sentence then reduced to three years of incarceration, and three years of parole. Some might find that sentence much too light: after all, she joined a group of mass murderers, despite – or was it because of? — having seen videos of ISIS fighters decapitating Western aid workers and journalists, and she encouraged others to do the same. As far as we can tell, she chose to leave Syria only because life in the camp, which was full of women who were all awaiting arranged marriages to ISIS fighters, proved to be too taxing for her and her toddler. She never expressed any moral qualms about choosing to join ISIS.
Now that she is in her mid-thirties, Tarenna Shakil is attempting a career change. She is styling herself as the next big thing in “online fashion spaces.”
Since being released from prison in 2019, Shakil has given numerous televised interviews and has publicly addressed the photos of her with AK47s, as well as her shock at having received a prison sentence.
Tareena Shakil has tried, unconvincingly, to explain away the photos of herself standing proudly with an AK-47, with her toddler right beside her. She claims she was “made to do it.” Her relaxed smile suggests quite otherwise. And she continues to think of herself as a victim. She was “shocked,” she says, at having been having been given any prison sentence. What did she expect? Her self-pity is maddening.
Now, perhaps tired of being known for her ISIS endeavors, Shakil has decided to turn her hand to becoming a fashion influencer, posting online under the name “That Girl Tam Tam.”
Among the items she shares are fashion inspiration posts, outfit ideas and photos and videos of her travels across the globe….
So far there is no news about any company hiring her to be their “influencer” to promote their brands. Her “fashion inspiration posts” and “outfit ideas” are not the stuff from which money can be made, and anyone rash enough to hire Tareena Shakil to be their brand ambassador or to pay her to be an online “influencer” would soon be disabused by the headlong rush of potential customers out the door. Those lost customers will undoubtedly record on social media their horror that anyone would have anything to do with Tareena Shakil. This is a woman who has gotten off lightly for her crimes, and none of us should drop a ready tear for the world of woe she has created for herself.