Heavily pregnant jihadi bride Shamima Begum, who was just 15 when she and her classmates Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase left the UK to go join ISIS in Syria in 2015, has said she wants to ‘come home to Britain’ but does not regret her decision in leaving.
Mohammed Rehman, Begum’s brother-in-law, has said the family spoke to her on the phone earlier this week and that she has ‘gone through a very difficult time herself’ after losing two children in Syria.
He said: ‘The family spoke with Shamima today. It was very emotional. There’s a mixture of elation and sorrow.’
‘We are happy that she’s alive but sad that things have come to this. She’s lost two children and put us all through a lot of heart ache. She’s also gone through a very difficult time herself.’
‘Shamima’s mother broke down when she heard her voice. Until the interview with her appeared in the newspaper we didn’t know if she was alive or not. So you can imagine, this has come as a shock to us all.
‘At one stage we thought she was dead. There has been no contact with her in almost 2 years. Shamima’s mum just cried and told her to come home. She promised to make her her favourite food. We want her to come back so that she can be re-educated. As a family we can’t understand how her head was turned like this and why she thought going to Syria was a good idea.
‘I can understand why people in this country are angry and don’t want her back. What she’s done doesn’t portray Islam in a good light. But she was only 15 when she went to Syria. We are appealing for compassion and understanding on her behalf.’
It is believed Begum is the only survivor of the three girls from Bethnal Green and both her children died of disease and malnutrition before the age of one.
Begum claimed life in Syria was ‘normal’ under the so called caliphate and even said she was unfazed by the brutal executions taking place around her, even claiming she once found the decapitated head of an enemy in a bin.
But after her jihadi husband Yago Riedijk was captured, she has decided to come back and ‘live quietly’ in the UK to make sure her child has the best chance of survival.
In an extraordinary interview with The Times’ Anthony Loyd, she said: ‘I don’t regret coming here. But I have to think about my baby as well. After my two kids died I’m scared this baby is going to get sick – that’s why I really want to get back to Britain because I know it will be taken care of. Healthcare-wise at least’.
She said: ‘I’m not the same silly little 15-year-old schoolgirl who ran away from Bethnal Green four years ago.
‘I know what everyone at home thinks of me as I have read all that was written about me online. But I just want to come home to have my child. That’s all I want right now’.
She added: ‘I’ll do anything required just to be able to come home and live quietly with my child.’
Begum also said she had a ‘normal life’ with her jihadi husband Yago Riedijk, 27, who she met and married within three weeks of arriving in Syria.
She said: ‘Mostly it was a normal life in Raqqa, every now and then bombing and stuff. But when I saw my first severed head in a bin it didn’t faze me at all. It was from a captured fighter seized on the battlefield, an enemy of Islam. I thought only of what he would have done to a Muslim woman if he had the chance’.
She conceded ‘the caliphate is over’ and had witnessed ‘so much oppression and corruption that I don’t think they deserved victory’.
Miss Begum fled the final ISIS stronghold in Baghuz, eastern Syria, as Western-backed Kurdish forces closed in on the town.
She said: ‘I was weak. I could not endure the suffering and hardship that staying on the battlefield involved.
‘But I was also frightened the child I am about to give birth to would die like my other children if I stayed on.
‘So I fled the caliphate. Now all I want to do is come home to Britain.’
But those who have seen the interview have claimed she has no remorse and is a potential danger to people in Britain.
Dr Kim Howells, a former Foreign Office and Counter-Terrorism Minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, said: ‘She sounds to be completely unrepentant, she sounds cynical, she said she wasn’t fazed by the sight of these heads in a bin as she described it. And now she wants to take advantage of the NHS. You can bet your bottom dollar there will be a lobby to get this girl home on humanitarian grounds.’
Nigel Farage said: ‘This woman shows no remorse for her actions, remains a committed jihadist and is totally unsuitable to come into our country’.
Britain’s Security Minister Ben Wallace said today the ISIS bride will not be rescued – but will be helped back to the UK if she gets to a consulate in Turkey or Iraq and questioned by police, and put in the dock ‘if possible’.
He said: ‘She’s a British citizen, she has rights. That’s the reality of it. It’s not about me or anyone else saying you can’t come. You have rights. But you know, don’t be surprised by what reception you get when you come back when it comes to investigations and law enforcement’.
Mr Wallace also also warned she should ‘expect to be prosecuted’ at the ‘very least’.
Tasnime Akunjee, a lawyer who was instructed by the Bethnal Green girls’ families after they ran away, said he was ‘glad (Ms Begum) is alive and safe’.
He said: ‘The position of the Metropolitan Police was that they should be treated as victims, so long as they hadn’t committed any further offences while they are out there,’ he said.
Adding: ‘I personally would like to see somebody like her who’s gone through the trauma she had – who’s gone out there as a child – get as much help as she can get and get on with her life and I would hope that for any human being’.