Shamima Begum, 22, who left Bethnal Green in East London, wants to come back to the UK to confront trial after she fled the country for Syria in 2015 to join terror group IS
Image: Sky News)
Shamima Begum says she is desperate to come back to the UK and that her only crime was travelling to Syria.
The former Bethnal Green schoolgirl has spoken about her situation from the al-Roj camp in Syria, where she lives having been stripped of her British citizenship.
She fled the UK to join IS in 2015 and has now been barred from the country for life, according to then Home Secretary Sajid Javid.
Under international law, cancelling citizenship is only permissible if it does not leave an individual stateless, which it has in Begum’s case despite claims she is eligible for Bangladeshi citizenship – a country she has never visited.
Speaking from the camp that is now her home, the 22-year-old said she was groomed by friends and older men she met online before joining the terror group six years ago.
She says she wants to go on trial in the UK and accepts she may end up in prison.
Wearing a baseball cap, leggings and a pink sweatshirt in a clear break from her formerly austere dress sense, Begum told Sky News that she didn’t leave Britain because she hated it, but because she felt “very constricted”.
She also hit back at claims she committed atrocities with IS, suggesting they were “all completely false”.
“I’m willing to fight them in a court of law but I’m not being given a chance,” she said.
Begum, who lost the three young children she had with her Dutch husband, is keen to have a relationship with her family when the time is right.
“I don’t think they failed me, in a way I failed them,” Begum continued.
She claims that she was groomed for “months and months” before she moved to Syria, and that she did not make the decision quickly.
As to what she will do if her British citizenship is not reinstated and she is not given a chance to clear her name in court, Begum said “there is no Plan B.”
Begum’s life in the al-Roj camp now largely revolves around reading books and eating noodles with her female friends.
According to a pal, she often hides herself away in a tent for weeks at a time.
She denied the suggestion that she is suicidal when asked.
Begum has been accused of stitching suicide bombers into explosive vests – an allegation she has denied.
She has before said: “I know that I didn’t do anything in ISIS except being a mother and a wife.”
In 2019, a lawyer for Begum’s family accused Javid of cancelling her citizenship in a bid to further his own ambitions of becoming chief minister.
His actions were described as “human fly-tipping”.
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