Norfolk teenager who travelled to Islamic State in Syria was a straight-A student

The smiling selfie that Lena Mamoun Abdel-gadir sent to her sister before she entered Syria.

The smiling selfie that Lena Mamoun Abdel-gadir sent to her sister before she entered Syria. - Credit: Photograph: PA

Privately educated at one of the area's top schools, Lena Mamoun Abdel-Gadir went straight to medical school in the Sudan after achieving straight A and A* grades in her GCSEs.

Medical students usually continue to A-Levels, but she excelled academically and gained a place at a Sudanese university with her results.

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She attended Wisbech Grammar School, a £12,000-a-year independent school in Cambridgeshire for nine years.

As a young girl, she was a pupil at Magdalene House, the preparatory school, and left the senior school at the end of Year 11.

Headmaster Chris Staley described her as 'bright, dynamic and academically-focused'. She also held various responsibilities and participated in school activities.


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'Lena was very involved with the school,' he said. 'She enjoyed being part of the Student Voice, the Student Council, and participated in the Duke of Edinburgh Award and sports; she was very much an ordinary girl at school.

'She had a passion for the sciences, and medicine, and went to university in the Sudan to start her medical career straight after her GCSEs. Everyone is surprised by the news that Lena could be in Syria. She was a very well-liked pupil and we hope she comes back to the safety of her home and family.'

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The 19-year-old, of Leziate near King's Lynn, is the daughter of a surgeon at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and among the nine British medical students who entered Syria.

She is a student at the University of Medical Sciences and Technology, a medical-orientated college in Khartoum, the capital of the Republic of Sudan.

Miss Abdel-Gadir wanted to 'volunteer to help wounded Syrians' and sent a smiling selfie to her sister before crossing the border.

On social media, she shares reports of apparent attacks on Muslims and her thoughts on life. In January, she retweeted: 'The pictures that the 2 journalists produced on Islam and prophet Muhammed (saw) was more horrific than their killing.'

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