The mother of a victim of the Manchester Arena terror attack said she fears the possible return to the UK of runaway ISIS bride Shamima Begum, who suggested the murder of 22 fans at the Ariana Grande concert was “fair justification” for bombing ISIS in Syria.
Charlotte Campbell, whose 15-year-old daughter Olivia was among the victims of the 2017 suicide bombing at the Ariana Grande concert, was cited by The Sun as saying, “I can’t stand the thought of her being allowed back. It’s making me ill. She’s such high risk.”
‘Kind of Retaliation’
Cambell made the comments after Begum said in a recent interview that the bombing of the Ariane Grande concert was “kind of retaliation” for air strikes against ISIS in Syria.
Begum, who spoke to BBC’s Middle East correspondent Quentin Sommerville, said about the Manchester Arena attack “I do feel that it’s wrong that innocent people did get killed,” but added, “It’s a two-way thing, really,” saying it was “just like the women and children in Baghuz that are being killed right now unjustly by the bombings.”
“And it’s kind of retaliation,” she said. “Their justification was that it was retaliation, 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
Suicide bombing survivor Phil Dick told The Sun he found Begum’s comments shocking. “This shows the depravity of IS supporters and why none should ever be allowed back into this country.”
The 19-year-old Begum left London four years ago with two school friends to join ISIS.
While Kadiza Sultana was reported to have been killed in an airstrike in 2016, Begum said she did not know what happened to her other friend, Amira Abase.
Begum was found in a Syrian refugee camp by The Times newspaper last week after reportedly leaving Baghuz, the final stronghold of ISIS in Syria.
Begum, who in the interview with The Times said she has “no regrets” about joining ISIS, gave birth to a baby over the weekend and has repeatedly pleaded to be allowed back into the UK, sparking a national debate about returning ISIS sympathizers.
‘People Should Have Sympathy’
Begum, who on Feb. 17 spoke to Sky News reporter John Sparks, said, “A lot of people should have sympathy” toward her, and urged her family to “keep trying to get me back [to the UK].”
She told The Times earlier that during her time with ISIS, her two other children died, and that she wanted to return to Britain because she was “frightened that the child I am about to give birth to would die like my other children if I stayed on.”
“That’s why I really want to get back to Britain because I know it will be taken care of—healthwise, at least,” she told the Times.
“I didn’t know what I was getting into when I left,” she told Sky News, “and I just was hoping that maybe for the sake of me and my child, they let me come back. I can’t live in this camp forever,” she added.
Just a Housewife?
In response to earlier suggestions that she might pose a security threat and her return should be blocked, Begum told Sky News she was “just a housewife” and that British authorities had no evidence of her “doing anything dangerous.”
“When I went to Syria I was just a housewife for the entire four years. Stayed at home, took care of my kids. I never did anything dangerous. I never made propaganda. I never encouraged people to come to Syria,” she added.
"I think a lot of people should have sympathy towards me for everything I have been through."
In an interview with Sky News, Shamima Begum says she hopes for the sake of her child she'll be allowed to return to the UK.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) February 17, 2019
But the more recent interview with the BBC reveals that Begum had been featured in ISIS propaganda videos and thereby, according to Sommerville, she “helped the enemy of Britain.”
“I did hear a lot of people were encouraged to come after,” Begum said, “but I wasn’t the one who put myself on the news.”
She added, “The poster girl thing was not my choice.”
“I actually do support some British values,” she told the BBC and added that “I am willing to go back to the UK and settle back again and rehabilitate and that stuff.”
‘Potentially Very Dangerous’
Alex Younger, the head of British intelligence service MI6, warned that would-be returnees, such as 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.”
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he “will not hesitate” to block the return of Begum—or other ISIS supporters—adding that those who do manage to make their way back to Britain should be prepared to be “investigated and potentially prosecuted.”
“We must remember that those who left Britain to join Daesh were full of hate for our country,” he said, according to Sky News. “My message is clear—if you have supported terrorist organizations abroad I will not hesitate to prevent your return.”
British Security Minister Ben Wallace was cited by The Telegraph as saying, “The message is to all the people out there. If you have been out there against the advice of the foreign office to go and engage in support or activities of terrorism, you should be prepared to be—if you come back—questioned, investigated, and potentially prosecuted for committing terrorist offenses.”