The father of ISIS bride Shamima Begum has doubled down on earlier statements that his daughter’s citizenship should not be revoked and that she should return to the UK and be punished if found guilty of crimes.
Ahmed Ali, Begum’s father, told The Associated Press in an interview in his Bangladeshi village on Tuesday, March 5, that he is calling on the British government to allow his daughter to return to Great Britain and face justice there.
“I would ask the British government not to cancel her citizenship, to return her citizenship, and if she is guilty, bring her back to Britain and give her punishment there,” said Ali, who lives in the northeastern Bangladeshi district of Sunamganj with his second wife. The area is 112 miles northeast of Dhaka, the capital.
He was quoted by the Daily Mail as saying, “I know they [the British government] don’t want to take her back, and in this, I don’t have a problem. I know she is stuck there [in Syria] but that’s because she has done actions that made her get stuck like this.”
“I can’t say whether it is right or wrong, but if the law of the land says that it is correct to cancel her citizenship, then I agree.”
Ali told the AFP in an interview on Feb. 25 those remarks had been “misquoted,” but there was no further information provided as to what this meant.
He told AFP reporters, “I don’t think that [to revoke Begum’s citizenship] was a right thing to do. To err is human. You and I can both make a mistake. It is OK to commit an error, all humans do that. One feels sad if a child commits a mistake.”
London Runaway Joins ISIS
Begum, now 19, ran away from her London home with two friends to travel to Syria to marry ISIS extremists in 2015 at the height of the terror group’s self-proclaimed caliphate. Now she, along with many other so-called ISIS brides, have ended up in Syrian refugee camps after fleeing the crumbling caliphate as coalition forces decimate the last vestige of the terrorist enclave.
She married a Dutch jihadi, who is currently being held in a Kurdish detention center in north-eastern Syria. He now says he rejects ISIS and wants to take her to the Netherlands with their newborn son.
Begum recently gave a series of interviews expressing her desire to return to the UK, but showed little remorse about having joined ISIS, triggering criticism online.
Citing security concerns, the UK’s interior secretary announced late February that her citizenship had been revoked.
The family has expressed its own shock at her lack of repentance, but proceeded with a legal challenge to the government’s move to strip Begum of citizenship.
Her husband, Yago Riedijk, 27, told the BBC this month from the Kurdish-run detention center that he met Begum within days of her arrival in Syria when she was 15. He said the marriage was “her own choice.”
When asked if marrying a 15-year-old was appropriate, Riedijk said: “To be honest, when my friend came and said there was a girl who was interested in marriage, I wasn’t that interested because of her age, but I accepted the offer anyway.”
— Quentin Sommerville (@sommervilletv) March 3, 2019
The mother of Begum earlier expressed fears that her “highly damaged” daughter might brainwash her newborn son with ISIS propaganda.
Speaking through a lawyer, Begum’s mother, Asma, was cited by British news outlet The Sun as saying that she wants her grandson to be taken away from Begum and brought to the UK because she “doesn’t want the grandchild indoctrinated.”
“[Begum’s] mum doesn’t even recognize her,” the lawyer said, adding, “They’re eager to take the baby and bring him up as her situation is sorted.”
“Shamima is highly damaged and the family doesn’t want the newborn brought up by her in that state of mind,” he said.
In earlier interviews, 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 civilians 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 [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 okay with it.”
Begum said that during her time with ISIS she was “just a housewife” and there was no evidence of her “doing anything dangerous.
Security experts such as British intelligence service head Alex Younger have warned, however, that would-be returnees like Begum were “potentially very dangerous.” Because they were in “that sort of position,” people like her were likely to have acquired certain “skills or connections.”