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Shamima Begum says she ‘did not hate Britain’ when she fled to Syria



Shamima Begum has said she “did not hate Britain” when she travelled to Syria as a teenager to join Isis, as she repeated 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.

Begum, who left her east London home when she was a 15-year-old schoolgirl, said she had been groomed by online friends and older men before she sought a new life in Syria.

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.”

She remains in the al-Roj refugee camp in Syria, which she said has become “more scary” to live in.

The 22-year-old former Isis bride said she has “hopes and dreams”

(Sky News)

She said: “For a long time it wasn’t violent but for some reason it’s become more scary to live here. Maybe the women have got tired of waiting for something.”

She said she would like to reconcile with her family “when the time is right”, explaining that: “I don’t think they failed me, in a way I failed them”.

Begum has previously told how she married Dutch convert Yago Riedijk 10 days after arriving in IS territory, and had three children all of whom died.

She said when she goes to sleep she thinks of “my children dying, the bombings, the constant running, my friends dying”.

The former Bethnal Green 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).

In June, her lawyers argued the Home Office had a legal duty to investigate whether Begum was a victim of trafficking when her citizenship was revoked on security grounds in 2019.

Of around 900 people who left Britain to engage in the conflict in Syria and Iraq since 2014, around a fifth had been killed and 40 per cent have returned.



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