Shamima Begum has said she is “sorry” to the UK public for joining the Islamic State (IS) and says she would “rather die” than go back to the terrorist organisation.
Speaking to ITV’s Good Morning Britain from a Syrian camp where she is being detained, the 22-year-old said she was groomed by IS. However, she added: “There is no justification for killing people in the name of God. I apologise. I’m sorry”.
Ms Begum left the UK aged 15 when she and two other east London schoolgirls travelled to Syria to join the IS in February 2015.
On Wednesday, appearing in a Nike baseball cap and a grey vest, Ms Begum said she left for Syria as she thought she was “doing the right thing as a Muslim”.
“I did not want to hurt anyone in Syria or anywhere else in the world . At the time I did not know it was a death cult, I thought it was an Islamic community,” she added.
Since at least February 2019, Ms Begum he has been in Al-Roj camp in Syria. ITV News revealed to Ms Begum two years ago that her British citizenship was revoked. She is challenging this decision and wants to be allowed to return to the UK to pursue her appeal, but the Supreme Court have prevented this.
During her interview with Good Morning Britain, Ms Begum appealed to Boris Johnson, asking him to let her re-enter the UK and stand trial.
“You are clearly struggling with extremism and terrorism in the country. I want to help with that, telling my own experience with these extremists, what they say and how they persuade people to do what they do,” she said.
Sajid Javid, who as home secretary in 2019 made the decision to revoke Ms Begum’s citizenship, said he stands by his choice.
Speaking to ITV News on Wednesday, Mr Javid said it was “absolutely the right decision”.
“When I saw what I did and the information I received from my advisors and our intelligence agencies, end the end it was a very clear cut decision.” he added.
Ms Begum recognised it might be hard for some Brits to forgive her, as they have lived “in fear of ISIS and lost loved ones”.
“But I have also lived in fear of ISIS and also lost loved ones,” she said.
Since leaving the UK, Ms Begum has had three children, all of which have died before they reached two years of age.
“I don’t know how they died,” she said. “Some people told me they had lung infection, maybe it was the air they were breathing from the bombs.”
Ms Begum had previously compared the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing – in which 22 people died after homegrown jihadi Salman Abedi detonated a suicide bomb – to military strikes on IS strongholds, calling the terror attack “retaliation”.
But she clarified her comments on Wednesday.
She said: “I do not believe that one evil justifies another evil. I don’t think that women and children should be killed for other people’s motives and for other people’s agendas.”
Ms Begum said when she initially made the comments, she did not know that women and children were hurt in Manchester.
She said: “I did not know about the Manchester bombing when I was asked. I did not know that people were killed, I did not know that women and children were hurt because of it.”