Shamima Begum: Isis bride says she was 'brainwashed' and wants second chance in first interview since son's death

'I really regretted everything I did, and I feel like I want to go back to the UK to start my life over again'

Colin Drury
Tuesday 02 April 2019 10:26
Jeremy Hunt says British officials didn't rescue Shamima Begum's baby because it was too dangerous

Shamima Begum, the British schoolgirl who ran away to join Isis, has said she has accepted she will probably never return to the UK – but insisted she was “brainwashed” by the terrorist group.

Speaking for the first time since the death of her third baby in March, the 19-year-old said she "really regretted everything" and asked for a second chance.

Ms Begum claims she left London for Syria in 2015 because she believed “everything that I had been told, while knowing little about the truths of my religion".

She became an Isis bride shortly after arriving in the caliphate, marrying Dutch fighter Yago Riedijk. The pair – whose first two children both died – only fled Isis territory as its last bastion in Baghuz crumbled earlier this year.

The teenager, who has Bangladeshi heritage, has since been stripped of her British citizenship by home secretary Sajid Javid.

She told the Times: “I have sat down and thought about how long I would have to stay here. And I have kind of accepted that I will have to stay here, I will have to make this like a second home.

“Since I left Baghouz 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. I was brainwashed."

The new comments follow interviews in February – when Ms Begum was first tracked down to the al-Hawl refugee camp in Syria – in which she showed little remorse for joining the extremists. At one point, she appeared to suggest the 2017 Manchester Arena terrorist attack which left 23 men, women and children dead were justified.

But she now says she was speaking under fear of revenge from extremists embedded in the camp.

"Anything I said against Dawlah (Isis), they would immediately attack me, so I was afraid of that," she said.

Meanwhile, here in the UK, Ms Begum's family have initiated legal proceedings to review the decision to strip her of British citizenship.

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Sajid Javid's move was only permissible under international law if it does not leave her stateless. He says she has automatic Bangladeshi citizenship because of her heritage.

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