Tooba Gondal

Tooba Gondal is a French ISIS member who recruited a number of high-profile “jihadi brides” for ISIS militants in Syria.Rohit Kachroo, “Former 'Islamic State matchmaker' Tooba Gondal deported from Turkey to France as part of repatriation attempt,” ITV, December 9, 2019, https://www.itv.com/news/2019-12-09/former-islamic-state-matchmaker-tooba-gondal-deported-from-turkey-to-france-as-part-of-repatriation-attempt. Gondal used social media platforms, such as Twitter, to groom and lure young women to make the trip to Syria and carry out their so-called duty as Muslim girls. Gondal allegedly organized the financial sponsorship of transporting three British school girls, including Shemima Begum, to Syria.Josie Ensor, “British and Irish women who recruited for Isil found in makeshift jail after escaping detention camp,” Telegraph, November 18, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/10/16/british-isil-recruiters-tooba-gondal-lisa-smith-found-makeshift/. After the fall of ISIS’s so-called territorial caliphate, Gondal was detained at a Kurdish-led detention center until she escaped and was arrested by Turkish forces in early November 2019.Richard Hall, “Nine suspected Isis members escape from camp in Syria amid Turkish offensive, France says,” Independent, October 16, 2019, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-war-isis-escape-turkey-invasion-kurds-france-latest-a9157776.html; Raf Sanchez, Josie Ensor, and Sara Elizabeth Williams, “British Isil 'matchmaker' feared to have escaped after mass prisoner breakout,” Telegraph, October 13, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/10/13/hundreds-islamic-state-prisoners-escape-amid-turkish-assault/; Bethan McKernan, “Turkey threatens to send foreign Isis suspects home from next week,” Guardian, November 8, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/08/turkey-isis-suspects-repatriation-islamic-state. On December 9, 2019, Gondal was deported from Turkey to France where she was detained upon arrival and was charged with terror offenses.Dave Burke, “ISIS 'matchmaker' who 'recruited Shamima Begum' pleads to be allowed back to UK,” Mirror, September 29, 2019, https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/isis-matchmaker-who-recruited-shamima-20330893; Henry Samuel, “Isil 'matchmaker' who lured British teen bride to Syria is deported to France,” Telegraph, December 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/12/09/isil-matchmaker-lured-british-teen-bride-syria-deported-france/.

Gondal was born in France, but raised in London, where she eventually went on to study English at Goldsmiths, University of London.“Tooba Gondal: who is the alleged ‘Isis matchmaker’?,” The Week, November 14, 2019, https://www.theweek.co.uk/104324/tooba-gondal-who-is-the-alleged-isis-matchmaker. From late-2014 to mid-2016, Gondal reportedly spent a lot of time on social media berating women who she considered “impious” and glorifying terrorist attacks.Simon Cottee, “The 'ISIS Matchmaker' Wants to Return to the UK,” Vice News, April 4, 2019, https://www.vice.com/en/article/j57wjd/tooba-gondal-isis-matchmaker-return-uk. Following the November 2015 Paris attacks—in which ISIS militants carried out a series of coordinated shootings and suicide bombings throughout Paris, killing 130 and wounding more than 350 others—Gondal had posted on Twitter that she “wished” she had been in the Bataclan to see the hostages “being slaughtered.”“Tooba Gondal: who is the alleged ‘Isis matchmaker’?,” The Week, November 14, 2019, https://www.theweek.co.uk/104324/tooba-gondal-who-is-the-alleged-isis-matchmaker; “Three Hours of Terror in Paris, Moment by Moment,” New York Times, November 9, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/11/13/world/europe/paris-shooting-attacks.html.

In 2015, Gondal traveled to Syria to join ISIS.Rohit Kachroo, “Former 'Islamic State matchmaker' Tooba Gondal deported from Turkey to France as part of repatriation attempt,” ITV, December 9, 2019, https://www.itv.com/news/2019-12-09/former-islamic-state-matchmaker-tooba-gondal-deported-from-turkey-to-france-as-part-of-repatriation-attempt. While in Syria, Gondal reportedly undertook weapons training and became one of ISIS’s chief recruiters of female ISIS members.Chris Dyer, “British ISIS 'matchmaker' and former Irish soldier-turned jihadi bride 'are held in Syrian rebel "safehouse" after escaping detention camps',” Daily Mail, October 16, 2019, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7580247/British-ISIS-matchmaker-ex-Irish-soldier-turned-jihadi-held-Syrian-rebels-escape.html; Simon Cottee, “The 'ISIS Matchmaker' Wants to Return to the UK,” Vice News, April 4, 2019, https://www.vice.com/en/article/j57wjd/tooba-gondal-isis-matchmaker-return-uk. Gondal groomed three English schoolgirls—Kadiza Sultana, who was killed after her house in Raqqa was bombed; Shamima Begum, who as of 2022 remains at al-Roj camp and seeks to return to the U.K.;Stewart Carr, “ISIS bride Shamima Begum begs Boris to bring her back to Britain from Syrian prison camp and claims she can help him tackle TERRORISM,” Daily Mail, January 25, 2022, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10440333/Shamima-Begum-begs-Boris-bring-Britain-help-tackle-TERRORISM.html. and Amira Abase whose whereabouts are unknown.Jake Wallis Simons, “EXCLUSIVE: 'She's overjoyed that she will see her family and her country again': Jihadi bride Shamima Begum is delighted with a court verdict that will allow her home to the UK,” Daily Mail, July 17, 2020, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8534493/Jihadi-bride-Shamima-Begum-delighted-court-verdict-allow-home-UK.html. Begum left the United Kingdom when she was 15 to join ISIS and was famously stripped of her citizenship by the then Home Secretary Sajid Javid in 2019.Martin Robinson, Paul Thompson, Joe Middleton, and David Barrett, “Jihadi bride Shamima Begum will face arrest for terror offences when she returns to UK to fight for her citizenship as she's pictured in Western-style jeans, shirt and a sun hat in Syrian refugee camp after bombshell High Court victory,” Daily Mail, July 16, 2020, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8531267/Shamima-Begum-pictured-wearing-jeans-shirt-blue-hat-walks-refugee-camp.html.

According to media reports, all three of Gondal’s late husbands were involved in ISIS activities.Dipesh Gadher, “I want to redeem myself,” says jihadi bride. ‘Take me home,’” Times, September 28, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/i-want-to-redeem-myself-says-jihadi-bride-take-me-home-h0bzxkg9d. Once Gondal arrived in Syria, she married her first husband, Abu Abbas al-Lubnani—an ISIS fighter from Lebanon who also served as a ringleader for recruiting women and girls in Britain to join ISIS. Following al-Lubnani’s death in battle in August 2015, Gondal married a British ISIS recruit who later fathered her first child. However, Gondal divorced her second husband and he later died in a suicide bombing. Gondal then married for a third time to a jihadist from Dagestan in the Russian Caucuses and gave birth to one other son before her husband was killed, presumably in battle.Simon Cottee, “The 'ISIS Matchmaker' Wants to Return to the UK,” Vice News, April 4, 2019, https://www.vice.com/en/article/j57wjd/tooba-gondal-isis-matchmaker-return-uk; Dipesh Gadher, Times, September 28, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/i-want-to-redeem-myself-says-jihadi-bride-take-me-home-h0bzxkg9d.

At some point in 2018, Gondal was detained by Kurdish forces and held at Ain Issa camp in northern Syria.Sam Courtney-Guy, “Isis ‘matchmaker’ who recruited Shamima Begum begs to return to UK,” Metro, September 29, 2019, https://metro.co.uk/2019/09/29/isis-matchmaker-recruited-shamima-begum-begs-return-uk-10828475/. On September 29, 2019, Gondal issued an open letter to the British public in which she claimed she was a changed person and wished to help prevent “vulnerable Muslims from being targeted and radicalized.”“Tooba Gondal: Isis bride begs to come home to UK in public apology,” The Independent, September 29, 2019, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/tooba-gondal-isis-jihadi-bride-apology-uk-syria-camp-islamic-state-a9125236.html. Gondal escaped the detention center on October 13, 2019 and was arrested by Turkish forces near Turkey’s border in early November.Richard Hall, “Nine suspected Isis members escape from camp in Syria amid Turkish offensive, France says,” Independent, October 16, 2019, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-war-isis-escape-turkey-invasion-kurds-france-latest-a9157776.html; Raf Sanchez, Josie Ensor, and Sara Elizabeth Williams, “British Isil 'matchmaker' feared to have escaped after mass prisoner breakout,” Telegraph, October 13, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/10/13/hundreds-islamic-state-prisoners-escape-amid-turkish-assault/; Bethan McKernan, “Turkey threatens to send foreign Isis suspects home from next week,” Guardian, November 8, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/08/turkey-isis-suspects-repatriation-islamic-state. Turkey deported Gondal to France on December 9, 2019, where she was detained upon arrival and was charged with terror offenses.Dave Burke, “ISIS 'matchmaker' who 'recruited Shamima Begum' pleads to be allowed back to UK,” Mirror, September 29, 2019, https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/isis-matchmaker-who-recruited-shamima-20330893; Henry Samuel, “Isil 'matchmaker' who lured British teen bride to Syria is deported to France,” Telegraph, December 9, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/12/09/isil-matchmaker-lured-british-teen-bride-syria-deported-france/. As of February 2022, Gondal is still awaiting trial.

Also Known As

Extremist entity
ISIS
Type(s) of Organization:
Insurgent, territory-controlling, religious, terrorist, violent
Ideologies and Affiliations:
Islamist, jihadist, pan-Islamist, Salafist, takfiri
Position(s):
Recruiter

ISIS is a violent jihadist group based in Iraq and Syria. The group has declared wilayas (provinces) in Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the North Caucasus. ISIS has also waged attacks in Turkey, Lebanon, France, Belgium, Iraq, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Tunisia, and Kuwait.

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On August 13, 2017, suspected al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) gunmen opened fire on a Turkish restaurant and hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. 19 people were killed and 22 others were wounded.    

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