Former ISIS bride Shamima Begum has insisted she “did not hate Britain” when she travelled to Syria to join the terrorist group.
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.
Taking to Sky News, Begum said she was groomed by friends and older men she met online before deciding to join the terror group. She said the decision was not made quickly and that it was something she “thought about for a while.”
She said: “I didn’t hate Britain, I hated my life really. I felt very constricted, and I felt I couldn’t live the life that I wanted in the UK as a British woman.”
Begum repeated her denial of accusations that she carried out atrocities as part of ISIS, saying they are “all completely false.”
“I’m willing to fight them in a court of law but I’m not being given a chance,” she said in an interview.
In February 2021, the UK Supreme Court ruled that Begum was not allowed to return and fight her citizenship case because she posed a security risk.
She remains in the al-Roj refugee camp in Syria, which she said has become “more scary” to live in.
“For a long time it wasn’t violent but for some reason it’s become more scary to live here,” she said. “Maybe the women have got tired of waiting for something.”
She said she would like to reconcile with her family “when the time is right.” She said, “I don’t think they failed me, in a way I failed them.”
Begum married Dutch convert Yago Riedijk after arriving in ISIS territory and had three children, all of whom died.
She said when she goes to sleep she thinks of “my children dying, the bombings, the constant running, my friends dying.”
Asked for his reaction to the interview, business minister Paul Scully said on Monday that he did not want to debate the handling of Begum’s case on TV.
“It has been heard by the Supreme Court after the home secretary made a really clear ruling,” he said.
PA contributed to this report.