Kadiza Sultana, a British schoolgirl who fled the U.K. to join the ISIS terrorist group is believed to be dead, according to her family’s lawyer.
“It’s devastating for the family that it ended like this,” said lawyer Tasnime Akunjee. “Perhaps the only benefit out of this is as a tombstone and a testimony for others of the risks of actually going to a war zone, to dissuade people from ever making that choice.”
Sultana is said to have died in a Russian air strike in Raqqa in May.
“We were expecting this in a way,” Sultana’s sister Halima Khanom told British television network ITV. “At least we know she is in a better place. We do not wish her name to come up in the headlines again … She is gone and we would like to respect her wishes.”
Sultana, then 16, made headlines around the world when she and her friends, Amira Abasa and Shamima Begum, both 15, boarded a flight from London’s Gatwick Airport to Istanbul on February 17, 2015. It is believed that the trio traveled to Syria and became jihadi brides.
ITV News reported that Sultana had become disillusioned with ISIS and wanted to return home to her family in Britain.
In one phone call with her sister Halima Khanom in December 2015, Sultana spoke of her fears.
“I don’t have a good feeling, like I feel scared,” she said. “If something goes wrong that’s it—I’ll never be able (to come home).”
She added, “You know the borders are closed right now so how am I going to come out? I’m going through PKK [militant Kurdistan Workers Party] territory to come out. I’m never going to do that ever.”
The UK Foreign Office said in a statement that authorities are unable to determine the whereabouts of Sultana and the other two girls.