Begum, who is now 22, left the UK for Syria to join the ISIS terrorist group as a 15-year-old schoolgirl. She had her British citizenship revoked by the UK government over security concerns, and remains in detention in a camp in Syria.
Appearing on ITV’s “Good Morning Britain” on Wednesday via video link, Begum was wearing a Nike baseball cap, a grey vest, and with pink nail varnish on her hands—a stark contrast to the black niqab she used to wear as an ISIS devotee.
She said she wanted to be brought back to the UK and face terror charges in order to prove her innocence.
She insisted that she did nothing in ISIS-controlled territory “but be a mother and a wife.”
She said she would “rather die than go back” to ISIS and added, “The only crime I committed was being dumb enough to join IS [ISIS].”
Begum said she knows it is very hard for the British people to try and forgive her, but she said, “I tell you from the bottom of my heart that I regret every, every decision I’ve made since I stepped into Syria and I will live with it for the rest of my life.”
In a direct plea to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Begum said, “I think I could very much help you in your fight against terrorism because you clearly don’t know what you’re doing.”
She said she wants the British public to see her “as an asset rather than a threat to them.”
In previous media interviews aired shortly after the fall of ISIS, Begum compared the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing—in which 22 men, women, and children died after homegrown terrorist Salman Abedi detonated a suicide bomb—to military strikes on ISIS strongholds, calling the terror attack “retaliation.”
But she clarified her comments on Wednesday, saying she did not know that women and children were hurt in Manchester. “I did not know about the Manchester bombing when I was asked. I did not know that people were killed, I did not know that women and children were hurt because of it.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who was home secretary when the decision was made to strip Begum of her British citizenship, said the decision “is both morally right, absolutely right, but also legally correct and the right one to protect the British people.”
The Home Office refused to comment on Begum’s case, but said in a statement, “The government’s top priority remains maintaining our national security and keeping the public safe.”
PA contributed to this report.