The ISIS bride, Shamima Begum, who fled to Syria in 2015 has said she was ‘brainwashed’, regrets running away to join the caliphate and pleaded with the British government to give her a second chance.

The 19-year old from Bethnal Green in East London, was one of three school girls who ran away from their families to join ISIS in Syria.

In her first interview since the death of her son, Jarrah, last month, she said she regretted leaving the UK and had been brainwashed by militants and groomed online.

“I was brainwashed. I came here believing everything that I had been told, while knowing little about the truths of my religion,” she told the Times.

She said she thought the caliphate would be a place of belonging where it would be safe to bring up children but admitted “I do regret having children in the caliphate.”

Since the death of her third child, Begum has been moved from the sprawling refugee camp al-Hawl to a smaller camp at al-Roj of about 600 people where officials say she has started to emerge from her radicalised state.

In previous interviews with the press Begum had refused to condemn ISIS and said she was “okay” with beheadings, but in her latest interviews said, “I still supported them because of what they told me and what they taught me.”

While in Syria, Begum married a Dutch IS fighter called Yago Riedijk, but they were both forced to flee the final ISIS stronghold of Baghouz when Daesh was surrounded by US-backed Kurdish-led forces.

Can the UK Make a Citizen ‘Stateless’?

She then requested to return to the UK, but in February the Home Secretary, Savid Javid, stripped her of her British citizenship.

Javid said he had taken legal advice from Home Office lawyers and said he thought Begum had dual-Bangladeshi citizenship through her mother, but Bangladesh has refused to accept her.

While in the ISIS caliphate Begum gave birth to two children, which both died and in February gave birth to another son, who died three weeks later after being taken to hospital with breathing difficulties.

The British government faced widespread criticism after the death of her third child, with many saying it was the UK’s duty to protect an innocent child who had done nothing wrong.

The UK foreign secretary defended his decision by arguing it was too dangerous to send British officials to Syria, although many British journalists and aid workers have travelled there recently without facing any significant danger or risk. 

“Shamima knew when she made the decision to join Daesh she was going to a country where there’s no embassy, where there’s no consular assistance. And I’m afraid those decisions, awful though it is, they do have consequences,” Hunt told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show on March 31.

A lawyer representing Begum’s family confirmed last month that legal proceedings were under way to overturn Javid’s decision. They will argue it is illegal to leave someone ‘stateless’ under international law.


Edward Cowley