The family of jihadi bride Shamima Begum—whose return to the UK has been blocked on grounds of affiliation with the ISIS terror group—has told the British government in a letter they are “sickened by the comments she has made” in interviews, but want authorities to reverse the decision to strip her of British citizenship.
In a letter to British Home Secretary Sajid Javid, reportedly seen and cited by the BBC, the family said they “wish to make clear, that along with the rest of the country, we are shocked and appalled at the vile comments she has made to the media in recent days,” but that the family “cannot simply abandon her.” The family called for a British court to review the UK government’s decision to bar Begum from returning to Britain by revoking her British nationality.
The letter, written by her sister Renu Begum on behalf of the family, also asked for the government’s help in bringing the jihadi bride’s newborn son to the UK and noted that Shamima Begum’s incendiary public statements “are not representative of British values, and my family entirely rejects the comments she has made.”
In recent interviews, a largely unrepentant Begum said that while she did not agree with everything the terror group had done, she has “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.”
"I didn't want to be IS poster girl" – London teenager Shamima Begum, who fled to join Islamic State group in Syria, says she now wants the UK's forgiveness
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) February 18, 2019
Asked about her take on the particularly graphic atrocities the jihadi extremists are known to have carried out, Begum told The Times of London that seeing “beheaded heads” in bins “did not faze her.” When asked by a Sky News reporter, “Did you know what Islamic State 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 okay with it.”
Begum, who gave birth in a Syrian refugee camp last weekend, insisted that during her time with ISIS she was “just a housewife” and there was no evidence of her “doing anything dangerous.”
‘Potentially Very Dangerous’
Security experts like British intelligence service head Alex Younger have warned, however, that would-be returnees like Begum were “potentially very dangerous” because having been in “that sort of position” 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 so insisted, are simply false.
“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.”
‘Murderous and Misogynistic Cult’
In the letter, Renu Begum wrote that the family made “every fathomable effort” to stop Shamima Begum from joining ISIS in 2015.
“That year we lost Shamima to a murderous and misogynistic cult,” she wrote.
“My sister has been in their thrall now for four years, and it is clear to me that her exploitation at their hands has fundamentally damaged her,” Renu continued.
The letter says: “We have a duty to her, and a duty to hope that as she was groomed into what she has become, she can equally be helped back into the sister I knew, and daughter my parents bore. We hope you understand our position in this respect and why we must, therefore, assist Shamima in challenging your decision to take away the one thing that is her only hope at rehabilitation, her British citizenship.”
A Sky News reporter asked Begum in an earlier interview, “One question that people are asking is whether you can be rehabilitated.”
She replied, “It would be really hard because of everything I’ve been through now. I’m still kind of in the mentality of having planes over my head and an emergency backpack and starving, all these things. I think it would be a big shock to go back to the UK and start life again.”
Revocation of Citizenship
UK authorities announced on Feb. 19 that they had moved to strip Begum of British citizenship, effectively blocking her re-entry.
— ITV News (@itvnews) February 19, 2019
Under the 1981 British Nationality Act, a person can be deprived of their citizenship if the home secretary is convinced it would be “conducive to the public good” and provided that the individual does not become stateless.
The Home Office said it is possible to revoke her British nationality on the grounds that she is eligible—through her mother—for citizenship of Bangladesh.
However, Bangladesh’s ministry of foreign affairs was cited by the BBC as saying that Begum is not a Bangladeshi citizen and there was “no question” of her being allowed into the country.
In a statement cited by The Telegraph, the family’s lawyer Tasnime Akunjee said, ” [The] Family are very disappointed with the Home Office’s intention to have an order made depriving Shamima of her citizenship. We are considering all legal avenues to challenge this decision.”
Lord Carlile QC was cited by the Daily Mail as saying that while Britain has a strong case to block Begum from re-entry, she could use her newborn son to try and circumvent the move. He added that the case of Begum—and by extension other ISIS would-be returnees—is likely to be a headache for British authorities for some time to come.
“This is going to drag on for months or even years,” Lord Carlile said.
Since Begum began her campaign to be allowed back into Britain, it has emerged that at least a dozen more British jihadi women have surfaced in northern Syria, and may similarly seek re-entry to the UK.
The approximately 12 women, as per multiple reports, are said to reside at the same refugee camp that is housing Begum after fleeing a losing battle against Western allies’ push to break the jihadi grip on Baghouz, the ISIS terrorist group’s final stronghold in the region.