Shamima Begum, who lost her British citizenship after leaving the UK to marry an Islamic State militant in Syria, has asked to return to Britain and help Boris Johnson fight terrorism “because you clearly don’t know what you’re doing”.
In her first televised interview since The Times found Begum in the Al Hol refugee camp for family members of the Islamic State in 2019, the 22-year-old told Good Morning Britain that she had a message for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
”You are clearly struggling with extremism and terrorism in your country. I want to help with that, by giving my own experience with these extremists, like what they say and how they persuade people to do what they do and to come to places like Syria.
“I think I could very much help you in your fight against terrorism because you clearly don’t know what you’re doing to fight against terrorism, and I want to help,” Ms Begum said on Wednesday.
EXCLUSIVE: @susannareid100 questions Shamima Begum on how she can seek forgiveness after her comments on the Manchester Arena terrorist attack.
In 2019 Ms Begum said the Manchester Arena attack was “justified” because of airstrikes that killed civilians in Syria. pic.twitter.com/WO8nGp60uP
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) September 15, 2021
“I did not mean that in an insulting way. It’s just that they are struggling with terrorism. Clearly, there is still terrorism in the UK. There are still attacks happening in the UK, and there are still people being radicalised online, in person, in the UK. I know it’s a big hardship,” she added.
Ms Begum spoke via videolink from Al Roj refugee camp in northern Syria but had previously resided in the notorious Al Hol camp, home to Islamic State wives and families. It was in those interviews with outlets like The Times in 2019 that Begum made widely-condemned comments, such as saying that while she was living under Islamic State rule, she was unphased seeing her first decapitated head in a bin, even expressing regret that the caliphate had failed.
“I don’t regret coming here,” she had also said.
In subsequent interviews in February 2019, Begum — who had just given birth to her third child who later, like her older two children, had died — implied there was a rationale for the “justification” for the Islamist attack on the Manchester Arena in 2017, which killed 22 people, including children, because of airstrikes against Syria.
She had told the BBC: “I do feel that it’s wrong that innocent people did get killed. It’s one thing to kill a soldier that is fighting you, it’s self-defence, but to kill the people like women and children…
“Just people like the women and children in Baghuz that are being killed right now unjustly, the bombings. It’s a two-way thing really.
“Because women and children are being killed back in the Islamic State right now and it’s kind of retaliation. Like, their justification was that it was retaliation so I thought ‘OK, that is a fair justification’.”
Jihadi Bride: I Thought Joining ISIS Was ‘Doing the Right Thing as a Muslim’ https://t.co/o5dGlBzWJN
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 15, 2021
Confronted with the remarks, Begum apologised and claimed she was not fully aware of the extent of the terror attack in Manchester, because she was isolated from Western news while living in the Middle East, adding she was “completely sorry for anyone that has been affected” by the terror group.
Besides ignorance, she further justified her remarks and others where she appeared sympathetic to the terror group to the fear of living in the Al Hol camp with other Islamist women, recounting rumours that some women threatened to punish those who uncovered their hair or talked to journalists, including burning down their tents with their children inside.
“I just said those things because I lived in fear of the women. I did not want to do those interviews anyways, and I was unaware of what ISIS had done in the UK and other parts of the world and was making comments about things I didn’t know about,” Begum said.
Asking for forgiveness from the British people in an attempt to persuade, perhaps the government, or public opinion, into backing her return to the UK, Ms Begum attempted to align the losses of British victims of Islamist terrorism to her own, saying: “I know it’s very hard for the British people to try and forgive me. They’ve lived in fear of ISIS, they’ve lost loved ones because of ISIS, and I also lived in fear of ISIS, and I also have lost loved ones because of ISIS. So I can sympathise with them in that way.”
Responding to Begum’s remarks, the mother of a victim of the Manchester attack, which was committed by the 22-year-old son of Libyan refugees, Salman Abedi, called her a “murderer”.
“How do I sit in a courtroom in Manchester and listen to the horrific details of the Manchester bombing that killed my son and his girlfriend after listening to her ask for forgiveness.”
ISIS Bride Joined Terror Group Because She ‘Didn’t Feel Loved as a Child’ by Bangladeshi Migrant Parents https://t.co/TvuoLi3qjH
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 19, 2021