Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
|Known for||using social media to recruit volunteers for jihadism|
Zehra Duman (born 1993) is an Australian-born Turkish woman who traveled to Daesh territory where she married a jihadi fighter. Born in Melbourne, Duman is reported to have been a friend of Tara Nettleton and Khaled Sharrouf, who travelled from Australia to Daesh territory, with their five children, in 2014. Duman's online recruiting activities have been the subject of scholarly attention.
Duman was described as an active recruiter of volunteers, who taunted Australian authorities to "catch me if you can". In "Fatal Attraction: Western Muslimas and ISIS", Anita Perešin identified Duman as a female jihad supporter who claimed to want to personally undertake suicide mission or engage in combat.
In February 2019, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation obtained a video of Duman, where she described herself as the best friend of late Tara Nettleton, who died in 2015. In the video she said that Nettleton's three surviving children, Zaynab Sharrouf, Hoda Sharrouf and Hamzah Sharrouf, remained in the Daesh-occupied territory, but that they were "fine", the last time she saw them.
On February 28, 2019, Dateline interviewed Duman's mother, who had recently heard from Duman. Duman's mother told Naima Brown of Dateline that, by 2017, Duman had grown disenchanted with Daesh, and wanted to come home to Australia, but couldn't because of Daesh's intense scrutiny of those living in its territory.
On March 14, 2019, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that an Australian woman who declined to identify herself, but who was believed to be Duman, was staying in the al Hawl refugee camp, trying to return to Australia with her two children. She described a terrible shortage of food, and her fears her 6 month old daughter would starve to death. Australian officials sent Duman a letter, informing her she had been stripped of Australian citizenship.
The New Daily reported that Duman, and other Australian citizens, were quietly whisked from the Al Hawl camp, in mid 2019. The Australian citizens were hooded, so they would not know where they were. They reported that the other Australians were taken to Iraq, where they met with Australian officials, while Duman was detained in an unknown location. There was speculation that she was removed for her own protection as the most devout followers of the ISIS philosophy in the camp disapproved of signs she had abandoned radicalism. In particular, she had stopped covering her head with any kind of scarf, and had taken up smoking cigarettes. She was returned to the camp without any explanation.
In December 2019 the Herald-Sun cited Duman as an example, when it quoted an American official who called on US allies, like Australia, to repatriate their citizens instead of stripping them of citizenship. The official argued that stripping citizens of citizenship can backfire, and trigger them to acts of violence.
In February 2020 The Australian discussed what was known about the citizenship of Duman's two children, who were born in Daesh controlled Syria. It questioned whether these children, who had Australian grandparents, should be denied Australian citizenship because their mother had been stripped of citizenship.
The Guardian reported that Duman and her children were still in the Al Hawl refugee camp, in June 2020. Duman was reported to have mounted a challenge over the legality of the law that stripped her of Australian citizenship.
Duman held joint Australian and Turkish citizenship, until Australia stripped her of citizenship in 2019. She was able to flee the Al-Wahl refugee camp, and make her way to Turkey, in September 2020. She was taken into custody, at the border, charged, tried, and received a seven year sentence for her ties to Daesh. However, since there was no one to care for her two children, who were both less than six years old, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that a mere two months after her sentencing she was living at large with her children, under a kind of parole.
According to court documents the Australian Broadcasting Corporation was able to review Duman described first traveling to Syria to meet up with Mahmoud Abdullatif during a time when she was an unhappy alienated youth. She had met him, and had a crush on him, when she was 14 years old, and when he reached out to her, at 19, traveling to Daesh seemed like a way out of her problems. He died in battle mere months after her arrival. She told the Turkish court that she was forced to marry her second husband, a man named Nedol. She bore him a child in 2016, before he too died in combat. She described being destitute, with a child six months old, and choosing to try to escape Daesh territory, only to be caught, and imprisoned. She said she was accused of being a spy, and thought she would be killed. She said she was imprisoned for three months, when another Australian man came forward, and married her. She bore him a child, before he too was killed in combat.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation noted that conviction in a Turkish court did not mean the individual had played a role in the Daesh administration, only that they had lived under Daesh control.
- Andrea Hamblin. Jihad bride spouts hate on social media, Herald Sun, 2014-12-14. “The former Isik College Keysborough student declared she would burn her Australian passport as she travelled to meet Mahmoud Abullatif, a former Melbourne party boy-turned Muslim extremist who earlier this year joined the barbaric IS terrorist fighters in the Middle East.”
- Naima Brown. EXCLUSIVE: Mother of Australian 'IS bride' begs government 'please bring my daughter home', Dateline, 2019-02-28. “Now, she is believed to be waiting alongside fellow former IS brides British Shemima Begum and American Hoda Muthana in Al-Hol, a makeshift camp for displaced people in Syria and is hoping to come home to Australia.”
- (2015) 'Till Martyrdom Do Us Part' Gender and the ISIS Phenomenon. Institute for Strategic Dialogue.
- How Melbourne schoolgirl Zehra Duman became Australia’s first ISIS bride. The New Daily (8 October 2019).
- Anita Perešin (2015). "Fatal Attraction: Western Muslimas and ISIS" 9 (3). “The same intention was expressed by Umm Layth who told her father, shortly after she arrived in Syria, that she wanted to become a martyr and would see him again on the “day of judgment,” while Zehra Duman often tweets about her own personal wish to undertake istishad-operations [suicide missions].”
- "‘Questions about Dawlah. DM me, plz.’ The Sock Puppet Problem in Online Terrorism Research".
- Sofia Patel (2017). "The Sultanate of Women: Exploring female roles in perpetrating and preventing violent extremism". “A Melbourne girl from a Turkish background, Zehra Duman, travelled to Iraq in December 2014, aged 21. She has been noted for her role in assisting IS’s online communications strategy through her very vocal online presence, painting a romantic picture of life inside the caliphate. In her role as a recruiter, she allegedly assisted Sydney mother of two Jasmina Milovanov to make hijrah in May 2015.”
- Anne Speckhard (2015-10-20). "The Hypnotic Power of ISIS Imagery in Recruiting Western Youth". “Zehra Duman, a female ISIS bride from Melbourne, Australia for instance posted this photo with the media caption, 5 Star Jihad. M5 in the land of Sham, he he. She was alluding to the BMW the women were seated upon implying that life is good for women in ISIS.” mirror
- Who are the Australian women travelling to Syria as brides of the Caliphate?, The News (au), 2016-05-08. “Also from Melbourne, Zehra married a Melbourne man who was fighting for Islamic State, Mahmoud Abdullatif. He was killed in action just five weeks later.”
- Geoff Chambers. Australian jihadi bride Zehra Duman’s terror taunt after playboy husband Mahmoud Abdullatif dies, The Daily Telegraph, 2015-01-26. “Duman is understood to be based in Raqqa, where her husband and friend Suhan Rahman posed in photos with notorious Sydney terrorist Mohamed Elomar. The number of Australians involved in the Syrian conflict, has now increased to approximately 90, up from 75 last year.”
- Souad Mekhennet, Joby Warrick. The jihadist plan to use women to launch the next incarnation of ISIS, Washington Post, 2017-11-26. “A photo posted on Twitter on March 18, 2015, by Zehra Duman, a.k.a. Umm Abdullatif, a self-professed Australian female ISIS member. (SITE Intelligence Group)”
- Sally Rawthorned. 'They are safe, that's the main thing': Sydney ISIS children reported alive, Sydney Morning Herald, 2019-02-28. “A video obtained by the ABC shows Australia's first ISIS bride Zehran Duman, who left Melbourne in 2014 to live under the Caliphate where she married Melbourne man Mahmoud Abdullatif, claiming that the three children are 'fine'.”
- Adam Harvey, Suzanne Dredge, Tom Hancock. Australian jihadi bride who fled Islamic State wants to bring her children home from Syrian refugee camp, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2019-03-14. “An Australian woman believed to be Zehra Duman is being held at the Al Hawl refugee camp in Syria with her children.”
- Chris Hook. ISIS bride who dared authorities to 'catch me if you can' loses Australian citizenship, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2019-10-08.
- Chris Hook. US official warns Australia against stripping jihadis of citizenship, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2019-12-02. “It is believed more than a dozen Australian Islamic State supporters have so far been stripped of citizenship, most recently former Melbourne woman Zehra Duman.”
- Suzanne Dredge, Dylan Welch. Former Australian citizen and ISIS bride Zehra Duman free in Turkey despite 7-year prison sentence, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2021-06-10. Retrieved on 2022-07-19. “Turkish courts released Duman in November, despite sentencing her only two months earlier to almost seven years in a Turkish jail for being a member of the terrorist group.”
- Samantha Maiden. Morrison government strips jihadi bride Zehra Duman of Australian citizenship, The New Daily, 7 October 2019-01-07.
- Samantha Maiden. Labor calls for return of ISIS wives and children from Syria, The New Daily, 2019-10-13. “But while the other mothers and children were taken to Iraq, where they met Australian officials, Ms Duman was detained with her two children in Syria. She does not know where she was imprisoned, why she was imprisoned or why she was released and returned to the camps.”
- Rodger Shanahan. ISIS brides made their bed; do we let them lie?, The Australian, 2020-02-21. “For mothers who are no longer citizens, the situation is even more complex. Zehra Duman is now only a Turkish citizen and presumably will never be allowed to return to Australia. To the best of our knowledge she has two children to two Australian jihadists, both dead. Are they Australian or Turkish children, or both? Can the Australian government be granted or exercise custody of those children and what rights do two sets of Australian paternal grandparents have regarding custody of their respective grandchildren? Would the children be better off in Turkey with their mother or in Australia without her?”
- Paul Karp. Woman stripped of Australian citizenship over alleged Isis role launches bid to overturn law, The Guardian, 2020-06-09. “Duman’s case is the first of its kind, challenging laws passed by the Abbott government in 2015 creating powers to strip Australian citizenship from dual nationals convicted of terrorist offences or deemed to have renounced citizenship by their own conduct, even without a conviction.”
- National security wrap, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, 2020-06-12. “Zehra Duman, who was stripped of her Australian citizenship for alleged ties with the Islamic State terror group in 2016, has lodged a High Court challenge to the decision from Syria. Duman, who was born in Australia and also has Turkish citizenship, claims legislation that allows for the removal of Australian citizenship from dual nationals does not apply to her.”