ISIS Bride Joined Terror Group Because She ‘Didn’t Feel Loved as a Child’

Shamima Begum
Laura Lean - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Shamima Begum, one of three British schoolgirls who ran away to Syria to marry Islamic State militants, said she joined the terror group because she did not feel loved by her mother and begged for a “second chance” and to be allowed to return to the UK.

Begum, who left the United Kingdom in 2015 aged 15 and married a Dutch jihadist, is one of several Islamic State brides from the West barred from returning home who featured in the documentary The Return: Life After ISIS, which premiered at the South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday night.

Describing herself as the “black sheep of the family”, she said she had a difficult relationship with her mother growing up, suggesting she joined Islamic State because she “didn’t feel loved as a child'”, according to BirminghamLive.

Ms Begum said: “I always wanted to be part of a Muslim community because when I was young, I felt like I was an outsider in my community.

“So I just wanted to be a part of something. My friends started practising [Islam], and they helped me come into the religion as well, and it just started with, like, learning my religion.

“And then it turned into wanting to come into Syria, wanting to help the Syrians.”

Last month, the UK’s Supreme Court denied Ms Begum’s appeal to return to the UK to challenge the removal of her British citizenship. Then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid removed her citizenship in February 2019 on the grounds of national security; the government maintained that she would not be rendered stateless as she could apply for a Bangladeshi passport by heritage links through her parents.

Currently residing at a Kurdish-run Roj camp for jihadi wives and families in Syria, Begum claimed that she had defended Islamic State in her earlier interviews with the British media because she “lived in fear” of the ISIS fanatics at the camp “coming into my tent and killing me and my baby”.

Begum had three children with Muslim convert Yago Riedijk, all of whom have since died. Riedijk, 29, is still alive and believed to be in a Kurdish-run prison in Syria.

She also accused the British government of “making up” stories that she was a member of the ISIS morality police, hisba. Media reports from 2019 claimed that Begum carried a Kalashnikov rifle and “earned a reputation as a strict ‘enforcer’ of [the Islamic State’s] laws, such as dress codes for women”, and that she had “literally stitch[ed] the vests” of suicide bombers.

She had also remarked in 2019 that when she saw her first severed head, belonging to a captured opposition fighter, “it didn’t faze me at all”. She was unbothered by the brutal death, she explained, because the head had belonged to an enemy of Islam.


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