So-Called 'ISIS Bride' Shamima Begum Offers to Help UK Fight Terrorism

In her first live UK TV interview, the 22-year-old, who fled the UK to join ISIS aged 15, said she could help the UK combat terrorism because "you clearly don't know what you're doing."
Simon Childs
London, GB
September 15, 2021, 12:01pm
​Shamima Begum speaks to Good Morning Britain. Screengrab: Good Morning Britain
Shamima Begum speaks to Good Morning Britain. Screengrab: Good Morning Britain

A 22-year-old woman who fled Britain for Syria to join ISIS when she was 15 years old says she can help with the UK’s counter-terrorism efforts.

Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain show, so-called ISIS-bride Shamima Begum was asked what she would like to say to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and said, “I think I could very much help you in your fight against terrorism because you clearly don’t know what you’re doing.”

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Begum was speaking from the camp in Syria where she is currently living. The 22-year-old from East London travelled to Syria to join ISIS when she was a 15-year-old school girl, and married convicted terrorist Yago Riedijk, originally from the Netherlands.

In 2019, Anthony Lloyd of The Times found her in a Syrian refugee camp where she was heavily pregnant. She said she wanted to return to the UK to raise her child but did not regret joining ISIS. Just days later, Home Secretary Sajid Javid stripped her of her UK citizenship, saying she could apply for Bangladeshi citizenship because of her heritage. Begum gave birth to three children in Syria, all of whom died young, including the baby boy she gave birth to just days after being found by Lloyd. The case sparked a debate in the UK as Begum had been a child when she fled to Syria. The Begum family’s lawyer said that she had been “groomed” by ISIS. In February this year, the UK’s highest court ruled that Begum would not be allowed back to the country to challenge the removal of her citizenship.

In the Good Morning Britain interview Begum apologised to the British people. “I know it’s very hard for the British people to try and forgive me because they have lived in fear of ISIS and lost loved ones because of ISIS, but I also have lived in fear of ISIS and I also lost loved ones because of ISIS, so I can sympathise with them in that way,” she said.

“I know it is very hard for them to forgive me but I say from the bottom of my heart that I am so sorry if I ever offended anyone by coming here, if I ever offended anyone by the things I said.”

In 2019 Begum said that the Manchester Arena attack, in which 22 people were killed by a pro-ISIS suicide bomber, was “justified” because of airstrikes that killed people in Syria.