British ISIS Bride Expresses Regret at Joining Jihadis, Admits She Was ‘Brainwashed’

April 2, 2019 Updated: April 2, 2019

Formerly unapologetic jihadi bride Shamima Begum has expressed regret about joining the ISIS terror cult and acknowledged she had been “brainwashed.”

Speaking to The Times of London in the al-Roj refugee camp in Syria on April 1, Begum said, “I do regret having children in the caliphate” and appealed to British authorities to be allowed to return to the UK.

“I came thinking it would be a place of belonging where I could raise a family safely,” Begum was cited by The Times as saying. “But it was not a place to have children.”

Begum’s reentry to Britain was blocked in February when British authorities deemed her a security threat and stripped her of citizenship.

The 19-year-old ran away from her London home in 2015 to join ISIS in Syria, where she married a jihadi recruit from Denmark.

Renu, the eldest sister of Shamima Begum, holds her sister’s photo during a media interview at New Scotland Yard in London on Feb. 22, 2015. (Laura Lean/PA Wire/Getty Images)
Renu, the eldest sister of Shamima Begum, holds her sister’s photo during a media interview at New Scotland Yard in London on Feb. 22, 2015. (Laura Lean/PA Wire/Getty Images)

Begum’s husband, Yago Riedijk, joined the jihadi terror cult in 2014 and married her a year later when she was just 15 years old. They had three children, all of whom are dead.

Heavily pregnant with her third child, Begum surfaced in a Syrian refugee camp in February after fleeing the battle-scarred Baghuz. There she gave birth to a baby boy, who died on March 8.

“Since I left Baghuz I really regretted everything I did, and I feel like I want to go back to the UK for a second chance to start my life over again,” she told The Times. “I was brainwashed. I came here believing everything that I had been told, while knowing little about the truths of my religion.”

Acknowledgment of Radicalization

Begum’s recent interview with The Times is the first time she’s admitted to having been radicalized.

“When I first came out of al-Dawlah [ISIS] I was still in the brainwashed mentality: I still supported them because of what they told me and what they taught me,” she told the publication.

In her first interview in February, Begum said that while she did not agree with everything the terror group had done, she had “no regrets” about joining ISIS and suggested that air strikes against the terror group in Syria somehow “justified” the Manchester Arena terror attack.

“It’s a two-way thing, really,” she told the BBC, adding that the suicide bomber that killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester was a “kind of retaliation” for bombardments of ISIS-held enclaves, adding, “So I thought, OK, that is a fair justification.”

Asked about her take on the particularly graphic atrocities the jihadi extremists are known to have carried out, Begum told The Times that seeing “beheaded heads” in bins “did not faze her.”

When asked by a Sky News reporter, “Did you know what Islamic State [ISIS] were doing when you left for Syria?”

“Because they had beheaded people. There were executions,” she replied, “Yeah, I knew about those things and I was OK with it.”

After fleeing Baghuz, she was initially interred at the al-Hol camp, where Begum said there were groups of Tunisian jihadi women who were “even more radical than ISIS.”

She told The Times in the most recent interview that besides being in the grip of jihadi ideology, she also felt pressured not to speak out against ISIS in earlier talks with journalists.

“Back in al-Hol there was [sic] a lot of dangers that came with not supporting Dawlah [ISIS]. Threatening to burn down my tent and stuff. I knew that everyone was watching my case, what the journalists were saying about me and what I was saying, how I was presenting myself to the journalists, so anything I said against Dawlah, they would immediately attack me, so I was afraid of that.”

Begum has been moved to al-Roj facility, where she said, “I have kind of accepted that I will have to stay here, I will have to make this like a second home.”

Begum’s return to Britain was blocked by UK authorities on grounds of her posing a security risk.

Her family launched a legal challenge to the British government’s decision to strip her of citizenship and effectively prevent her from entering the country.

Mob of ISIS Brides Riot at al-Hol

A violent mob of ISIS brides—some armed—besieged guards at the al-Hol refugee camp, injuring as many as 30 security staff members.

Guards at the al-Hol camp in northern Syria were outnumbered by a large group of rioting black-clad women on March 21, according to The Times of London, and managed to break up the disturbance only after firing warning shots.

“The women were shouting that if I was in their hands, they would behead me,” said 18-year-old Jani, who polices the camp that has seen a large influx of jihadi extremists fleeing the crumbling ISIS caliphate.

Camp authorities had initially anticipated about 15,000 refugees would flow in but today that figure stands at about 72,000, The Times reported.

Guards said that jihadi sympathizers streaming into the facility have been found with suicide belts hidden among their clothes, knives in their hair, and small guns stashed in their belongings.

A senior member of the police was cited by The Times as saying, “ISIS is finished so it tries to take revenge here. They can even bribe NGOs to bring weapons inside. Even the shops inside the camp, they can give them money and get them to bring them guns.”

al-Holm refugee camp
A general view of the al-Hol displaced persons’ camp is seen in northeastern Syria on Feb. 17, 2019. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)

‘Potentially Very Dangerous’

Security experts such as British intelligence service head Alex Younger have warned that would-be returnees like Begum were “potentially very dangerous” because they were in “that sort of position,” and people like her were likely to have acquired certain “skills or connections.”

Survivors and other victims of the murderous cult’s reign of terror, meanwhile, are furious at the prospect of ISIS women getting a sympathetic hearing in the Western press, or worse—a free pass.

Ali Y. Al-Baroodi, who survived ISIS’s bloody occupation of Mosul, told The Jerusalem Post that claims on the part of jihadi brides that they were “just housewives,” as Begum has insisted, are not credible.

“It was hell on Earth and every single one of them made it so,” he said, asking sarcastically if perhaps local victims of the jihadi women should “apologize for disturbing their stay there.”

“[ISIS] demolished cities and hundreds of mass graves, [and left] thousands of orphans and widows,” he added.

“It’s impossible to muster sympathy for her,” author and academic Idrees Ahmad wrote in reference to Begum, according to the Post. “She went to Syria as a colonizer, several months after ISIS beheaded journalists and aid workers.”

Follow Tom on Twitter: @OZImekTOM
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