Shamima Begum says she fears for her life in Syrian refugee camp

Begum said she is a target of frequent attacks for being ‘Westernised’ and ‘less Muslim’

Monday 29 November 2021 16:36 GMT
<p>Ms Begum was 15 when she and two other east London schoolgirls travelled to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State group in February 2015. </p>

Ms Begum was 15 when she and two other east London schoolgirls travelled to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State group in February 2015.

Shamima Begum has said she ‘lives in fear constantly’ as she believes she will be killed in her refugee camp for being a “Westernised” and “less Muslim” woman.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, she said her and a Dutch woman, called Hafida Haddouch, also living in the Al-Roj camp, have been targets of arsonists because they are considered less devout than others. She added that she had voluntarily given up wearing Islamic dress, making her more vulnerable to attacks.

She said: “When the first tent fire happened we just got back to normal and then the second fire happened and then we just live in fear constantly.

“In the past few months they have happened more than they’ve happened in the past few years.”

Begum, who left her east London home when she was a 15-year-old schoolgirl, is among an unknown number of suspected Isis members to be stripped of their British citizenship as part of efforts to keep them out of the UK.

The government has repeatedly suggested it is unable to successfully prosecute Begum and other former Isis members detained in Syria.

Membership of a proscribed terrorist organisation is a terror offence punishable by up to 14 years’ imprisonment.

In February, the Supreme Court ruled that Begum could not return to the UK to fight her case, which sits with the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC).

She has repeatedly urged British officials to allow her to go on trial. She has also offered to aid anti-terror efforts.

Sitting on the plot of an old tent of hers that has since been burnt down, she added: ‘The fight against terrorism is not a one-man job, it’s multiple people with multiple skills.’

She also told the Daily Mail she had the experience to aid preventative efforts in stopping children from being lured into extremeism.

It comes after she addressed Boris Johnson, saying: “You are clearly struggling with extremism and terrorism in your country. I could very much help you with that because you clearly don’t know what you’re doing.

“I want them to see me as an asset rather than a threat to them.”

Last week, Begum said “did not hate Britain” when she travelled to Syria as a teenager to join Isis, after also repeating her plea to fight accusations against her in court.

Speaking to Sky News, the 22-year-old former Isis bride said she has “hopes and dreams” but is currently living in “hell on earth” after fleeing the UK in 2015.

She repeated her denial of accusations that she carried out atrocities as part of the so-called Islamic State, saying they are “completely false”.

Telling the broadcaster she wants to face trial in the UK, she said: “I’m willing to fight them in a court of law but I’m not being given a chance.”

She continued by saying leaving the UK “wasn’t just a decision I made very quickly, it was a decision I thought about for a while.

“I didn’t hate Britain, I hated my life really. I felt very constricted, and I felt I couldn’t live the life that I wanted in the UK as a British woman.”

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