Shamima Begum: Supreme Court rules against return to UK
Begum fled to Syria in 2015, at the age of 15, to marry an ISIS fighter from Holland who had converted to Islam. Four years later, while living in a refugee camp in Syria after the collapse of the caliphate, she gave an interview in the Times in which she likewise asked for permission to return. However she angered many with her insistence that she did not regret joining the terrorist organisation, and has since been stripped of her British citizenship, a decision ratified by the Supreme Court last month when it rejected her right to challenge the decision.
The documentary, The Return: Life After ISIS, directed by Spanish filmmaker Alba Sortorra, premieres at the online Texas-based South By Southwest festival today.
Sortorra was able to gain extensive access to Begum, and other western women, while filming at Roj refugee camp in March, 2019.
During the course of her interviews, Begum attempts a more conciliatory tone than in her Times interview of two years ago.
She says: “I’m from the UK. I’m 19. I would say to the people in the UK, give me a second chance because I was still young when I left.
Shamima Begum believes she should get a second chance
“I just want them to put aside everything they’ve heard about me in the media.”
She also claims she felt like an “outsider” growing up in London and had wanted to “help the Syrians”.
Begum says she rapidly realised ISIS was “trapping people” to increase the number of people living in the caliphate and “look good for the (propaganda) videos”.
Addressing her previously stated lack of remorse, she claims she had no choice but to say certain things to journalists “because I lived in fear of these women coming to my tent one day and killing me and killing my baby.”
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Shamima Begum famously said she did not regret joining ISIS as a teenager
Shamima Begum and two friends pictured leaving the UK in 2015
Begum’s baby did indeed die, as did two others she had before that.
Ms Sortorra commented: “Shamima was a piece of ice when I met her.
“She lost the kid when I was there. It took a while to be able to cry.
“I think it’s just surviving, you need to protect yourself to survive.
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Shamima Begum has been stripped of her UK citizenship
Shamima Begum pictured at the refugee camp
“I will never be able to understand how a woman from the West can take this decision of leaving everything behind to join a group that is committing the atrocities that ISIS is committing.
“I do understand now how you can make a mistake.”
Professor Michael Kenney, who spent four years interviewing former and current members of ISIS-affiliated UK-based organisation Al-Muhajiroun while researching his book, The Islamic State In Britain, spoke to Express.co.uk in the wake of Begum’s Times interview two years ago.
He said: “This is a tough case. Judging by her interview, Shamima Begum appears to be unrepentant and still committed to ISIS’s ideology.
ISIS took over much of Syria in 2015
“In that sense, she represents a certain risk to British security. On the other hand, Begum is a British national who is pregnant.
“Does the British Government have any responsibility for her care and that of her unborn child?
“Can the Government expect the Syrian Defence Forces to take care of her indefinitely?”
Prof Kenny added: “If the British Government were to accept responsibility for her repatriation, officials provide Begum with the option of returning, subject to a full investigation of her activities and possible crimes in Syria, along with her placement under administrative controls and participation in long-term deradicalisation programming in Britain.
Shamima Begum also pleaded with people not to believe what they had read about her
“If she committed any crimes she should be held fully accountable for them.”
“If she were given the opportunity to rebuild her life in Britain some real good might come out of it.
“But there is no denying that her reintegration to the UK would be risky and costly.
“It’s a huge can of worms – an extremely difficult case for the authorities.”