SHAMIMA Begum claims she only left the UK to join ISIS as she “didn’t want to be left behind by her friends”.
The teen ISIS bride fled Britain for Syria in 2015, aged 15, to join the militant group with two schoolgirls.
Begum is currently being held at the al-Roj camp in northern SyriaCredit: Alba Sotorra/metfilm
In a new documentary, Begum says she made the trip to Syria as she “didn’t want to be the friend that was left behind”Credit: The Return: Life After Isis
She is currently being held at the al-Roj camp in northern Syria after having her citizenship stripped.
She said: “I knew it was a big decision, but I just felt compelled to do it quickly.
“I didn’t want to be the friend that was left behind.”
Begum, now 21, said recruiters preyed on the guilt they felt at seeing Muslims suffer in the Syrian conflict.
In the account, which was the first she had given since leaving the UK, the young woman said she was the “black sheep” of her family and was “young and naive when she made the decision to leave.
She joined her Bethnal Green classmates – Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana – in fleeing the UK, she said, because she wanted to help people in war-torn Syria.
In the documentary Begum cries when talking about losing her three children during the Syrian war.
She wanted to kill herself because of the grief, she said.
Earlier this week Spanish director Alba Sotorra said Begum was not a threat to anyone, as she was totally broken and in need of help.
Sotorra met Begum in the spring of 2020 at a Syrian refugee camp, where she recalled the Brit as being so traumatised that she was incapable of expression.
Speaking to the Times, Sotorra said: “In the beginning, Shamima was like a ghost just sitting there, covered, lifeless, like a marionette, a doll.”
Sotorra, who is making a film about a workshop run by Kurdish women who are living in the Roj camp.
It was there that Sotorra first met Begum.
“Her lack of ability to express her feelings made me feel deeply sad for her,” she recalled.
“Then, maybe two or three months after I met her, we had this game with the kids.
“The kids were playing with kites. Shamima was always very silent.
“And she sat on one of these carts watching. I saw a teardrop fall from her eye. It was the first time.”
In the film, which was shot in 2019, she said that after the death of her third child, a son, she stayed up all night with his body.
She said: “He was my last hope, he was the only thing keeping me alive. I didn’t know how. That day I just cried for all my children. I cried for all of them. No one could help me, no one could do anything.”
Begum said she felt like she wanted to kill herself after her daughter died while she was pregnant with her third child.
She said: “When she died it was so hard because I just felt so alone and I felt like my entire world was falling apart in front of me and I couldn’t do anything.
“I felt like it was my fault for not getting them out sooner.
“When she died at that moment I just wanted to kill myself. I felt like I couldn’t even get up to run any more when there were bombings.
“The only thing keeping me alive was my baby I was pregnant with. I felt like I had to do him right by getting him out and giving him a normal life.”
She has pleaded with Brits to keep an “open mind” over her returning to the UK with the change in her appearance the biggest hint she has been de-radicalised.
In the documentary she begs: “I would say to people in the UK, give me a second chance because I was still young when I left.
“I would ask that they put aside everything they’ve heard about me and just have an open mind about why I left and who I am now as a person.”
But in February Begum lost a legal battle to return to the UK for a court appeal over the removal of her British citizenship.
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favour of the Government and said she cannot come back to the UK for a court case to reclaim her British passport for the safety of the public.
Lord Reed said her legal bid to reclaim her British citizenship should be postponed until she is no longer considered a threat to national security.
Begum was just 15 when she fled LondonCredit: PA