Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 July 2019

ISIS runaway Shamima Begum asks UK for a second chance

The teenager says she was brainwashed by ISIS militants

ISIS bride Shamima Begum says she regrets her decision to flee to Syria from her east London home when she was 15. Reuters
ISIS bride Shamima Begum says she regrets her decision to flee to Syria from her east London home when she was 15. Reuters

Shamima Begum, the teen who joined ISIS, has asked to return to the UK after having her citizenship revoked, saying that she regretted leaving her east London home at the age of 15 to travel to Syria.

In her first interview since the death of her son, Ms Begum, 19, said she had been brainwashed by online groomers and extremists.

"Since I left​ Baghouz [in Syria] I really regretted everything I did and I feel like I want to go back to the UK for a second chance to start my life over again,” she told British newspaper The Times.

“I was brainwashed. I came here believing everything that I had been told while knowing little about the truths of my religion."

Ms Begum’s three-week old son Jarrah died of pneumonia in a refugee camp on March 10. Her husband Yago Riedijk, the child’s father, is a Dutch ISIS fighter who is being held in a Kurdish detention centre in north-eastern Syria.

Ms Begum was moved from a refugee camp near the village of Baghouz because of risk to her safety.

The Times said she was now staying in Al Roj at a smaller camp with about 600 people, and was being de-radicalised.

Commenting on having children in Syria, she told the paper: "I do regret having children in the caliphate.

“I came thinking it would be a place of belonging where I could raise a family safely. But it was not a place to have children.”

The Sun reported on March 30 that Reiddijk had been banned from entering the UK. The ban was imposed by British home secretary Sajid Javid weeks after Begum, 19, was stripped of her citizenship.

The teenager has been heavily criticised for her comments in interviews, where she defended the 2017 Manchester Arena terrorist attack and said she was unfazed by the sight of severed heads.

The stripping of Ms Begum’s citizenship sparked a debate in the UK. On March 12, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott criticised Mr Javid and said Ms Begum's child died as a result of her citizenship being revoked.

About 150 Britons have had their citizenship revoked since 2010.

The British government has refused to repatriate foreign fighters' children from Syria because of security concerns.

Speaking of Ms Begum’s child,British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “We have to think about the safety of the British officials that I would send into that war zone.”

But other European countries, such as France, have repatriated several orphaned children from ISIS camps in Syria.

Updated: April 2, 2019 09:20 PM

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