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Shamima Begum
Shamima Begum
Image: PA

'I was brainwashed': ISIS bride Begum asks for second chance

Shamima Begum was 15 when she and two friends left London to marry Islamic State fighters in Syria in 2015.
Apr 2nd 2019, 9:24 AM 37,406 102

UK-BORN TEENAGER Shamima Begum has said she was “brainwashed” by Islamic State and that she “regretted everything” since she joined the militant group four years ago. 

Begum was 15 when she and two friends left London to marry IS fighters in Syria in 2015. She recently resurfaced in a refugee camp and gave birth last month. Her infant son later died from a chest infection.

Speaking to the Times, Begum said that since she left the ISIS stonghold Baghouz, she regretted her actions. “I feel like I want to go back to the UK for a second chance to start my life over again.”

“I was brainwashed. I came here believing everything that I had been told, while knowing little about the truths of my religion.”

Begum’s story made headlines in February after a much-publicised campaign by her family to allow her to return to Britain with her newborn child, who is now buried at the al-Roj refugee camp in Syria. 

Her apparent lack of remorse for joining Islamic State sparked anger. Begum now says that “she was still in the brainwashed mentality” when she came to public attention in February. “I still supported them because of what they told me and what they taught me.”

Her most recent interview comes two weeks after Kurdish-led forces announced the end of Islamic State’s nearly five-year-old “caliphate” in Syria. 

Despite her family’s campaign to bring her home to the UK, British Home Secretary Sajid Javid revoked her UK citizenship in March.  

Begum’s parents are from Bangladesh but her family have said that she is not a dual citizen. The family has said it plans to challenge Javid’s decision.

Begum says she now accepts that she will likely remain in Syria. ”I have sat down and thought about how long I would have to stay here,” she said.

“And I have kind of accepted that I will have to stay here, I will have to make this like a second home. And it’s easier now as I do have women around me, friends who help me emotionally get through it.”

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Cónal Thomas

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