By Trevor Aaronson The Intercept
In a new documentary, Tareena Shakil, whose marriage to Dennison was first revealed in an Intercept podcast, describes her journey to the Islamic State.
“I did what I had to do to survive.”
That’s what Tareena Shakil, the first British woman to be prosecuted and convicted for joining the Islamic State, tells filmmaker Abigail Carr in Shakil’s first interview since a British jury convicted her of joining ISIS and encouraging terrorism in 2016. Shakil’s interview was part of “Tareena: Return from ISIS,” a one-hour film that aired Sunday in the United Kingdom on ITV’s current affairs program “Exposure.”
I’d been waiting a long time to hear Shakil tell her story. I spent much of the last three years working on a podcast about the man to whom Shakil was briefly married during her time in Syria: Russell Dennison, an American convert to Islam who joined ISIS as a fighter. Dennison is the subject of “American ISIS,” an eight-part Audible Original documentary podcast released in July from The Intercept and Topic Studios. Dennison secretly communicated with me for months from ISIS-controlled Syria, sending more than 30 hours of recordings about his life and his time with ISIS, until he died in an airstrike in eastern Syria as the so-called caliphate was collapsing.