Shamima Begum: Isis child bride says she had ‘good time’ in Syria but wants to bring baby home

Teenager also says she was just a ‘housewife for four years’ while in Syria

Tim Wyatt
Sunday 17 February 2019 13:58 GMT
'I don't regret it' Shamima Begum tells Sky News moving to Syria has made her 'stronger and tougher'

Isis bride Shamima Begum has said she had a “good time” while living in Syria but now wants to bring her newborn son back home to Britain.

In her first interview since giving birth in a refugee camp in Syria, the 19-year-old said again she did not regret joining the terrorist group.

“I don’t regret it because it’s changed me as a person, it’s made me stronger, tougher,” she told Sky News.

“I married my husband – I wouldn’t have found someone like him back in the UK. I had my kids.

“I did have a good time there, just at the end things got harder and I couldn’t take it anymore.”

The teenager gave birth to her son on Saturday and has pleaded with the authorities to let her come home to raise him.

“I’m just hoping that for the sake of me and my child they let me come back. I can’t live in this camp forever.

“I don’t know if they would take my child away.

“I left [Isis] because of him, I just want to give him a better life. I don’t want him to be taken away from me.”

A fierce debate has erupted in Britain since Ms Begum was first tracked down by reporters in the camp earlier this week.

Several ministers, including the home secretary Sajid Javid, have insisted she will not be permitted to return to the UK and others have warned she could still be a potential threat.

The east Londoner fled the tiny patch of land still held by the remnants of Isis for fear her then-unborn child could not survive in the ashes of the caliphate.

But despite spending almost four years living alongside the Islamist extremists, she said she was not guilty of anything.

Shamima Begum on moving to Syria: 'Videos on the internet attracted me to join them'

“People should have sympathy towards me and everything I’ve been through. I didn’t know what I was getting into when I left.

“They don’t have any evidence against me doing anything dangerous.

“When I went to Syria I was just a housewife for four years, I just stayed at home, took care of my husband, took care of my kids.”

Ms Begum’s family said on Friday her lack of regret for joining Isis simply reflected how she had been “groomed at the age of 15” by the extremist group.

They also suggested they could be given custody of the infant while their daughter is investigated by authorities.

The 19-year-old admitted she was still partly in “the mentality of Dawlah”, the Arabic term used by Isis-supporters to refer to their aborted caliphate.

Coming back to her old life in Bethnal Green would be a huge challenge, she said.

Shamima Begum is currently living in a refugee camp in northern Syria controlled by Kurdish forces (Sky News)
Shamima Begum is currently living in a refugee camp in northern Syria controlled by Kurdish forces (Sky News)

“It would be really hard, everything I have been through. I’m still in the mentality of Dawlah, planes over my head, having an emergency backpack, starving.

“It would be a really big shock to go back to the UK and start life again.”

Ms Begum said she was lured to leave her comfortable life and family in Bethnal Green behind by slickly produced videos she found on social media.

At first, life in Syria under Isis was like it had been presented in the propaganda footage, but things began to change as the caliphate began losing territory.

“At first it was nice, it was how they showed it in the videos. You come, make a family together,” she said.

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“But afterwards things got harder, when we lost Raqqa and had to keep moving and moving. The situation got difficult.”

By the end, she said conditions had become desperate.

Her child, born several years earlier to the Dutch Isis militant she was married to, died because there was no medical care in the ever-shrinking land still controlled by the extremists.

There was also a chronic lack of food and even safe places to sleep, she said.

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