Jihadi bride Shamima Begum: ‘I'm being punished because I’m famous’

Shamima Begum told the BBC she didn't see herself as an IS
Shamima Begum said she didn’t see herself as an IS “poster girl” (Picture: BBC)

Isis bride Shamima Begum has said she is “being punished” because she is ‘famous”.

The 19-year-old, who fled the UK when she was 15 to join IS in Syria, is at the centre of a controversial political storm.

Last week, home secretary Sajid Javid made the decision to revoke her British citizenship.

The teenager, who left London to join Isis’s self-proclaimed caliphate in Syria, has said she wants to return to the UK with her newborn son.

Shamima Begum has just given birth to a boy (Picture: PA)
Shamima Begum has just given birth to a boy (Picture: PA)

She had given a series of interviews in which she failed to express remorse for her actions.

But in her latest interview, she took a more contrite tone.

Speaking to the Daily Mail from a tent in a Syrian refugee camp, alongside her son, she said: “I feel like I’ve been discriminated against because everyone was saying I was a poster girl for Isis.

“I’m being made an example of. I’m being punished right now because I’m famous. I am hoping to be given a second chance.”

She added: “I’d like to be an example of how someone can change. I want to help, encourage other young British people to think before they make life-changing decisions like this and not to make the same mistake as me.

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“I can’t do that if I am sitting here in a camp. I can’t do that for you.”

In another interview, with the Sunday Telegraph, she said she regretted ever speaking to the media.

She was one of three schoolgirls to leave Bethnal Green to join the terror cult in 2015 and resurfaced heavily pregnant at a Syrian refugee camp last week.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph from the al-Hol camp, Ms Begum said: “They are making an example of me. I regret speaking to the media. I wish I had stayed low and found a different way to contact my family. That’s why I spoke to the newspaper.”

Mr Javid revoked Ms Begum’s British citizenship in a move only permissible under international law if it does not leave the individual stateless.

It was speculated that Ms Begum, who is of Bangladeshi heritage, may have citizenship there but Bangladesh’s minister of state for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam denied this.

Her family have written to the home secretary asking for his help to bring her newborn son to Britain.

The letter said the baby boy was a “true innocent” who should not “lose the privilege of being raised in the safety of this country”.

Her sister Remu Begum, writing on behalf of the family, asked how they could help the home secretary “in bringing my nephew home to us”.

The family said they have had no contact with Ms Begum and had only learned she had given birth to a boy through media reports.

They made clear that they were “shocked and appalled” at the “vile comments” Ms Begum had recently made to the media.

Meanwhile her father, Ahmed Ali, 60, said he “does not have a problem” with the government’s stance and suggested he did not have sympathy for his daughter due to her lack of remorse.

Shamima Begum, right, fled the UK for Syria with fellow teenagers Amira Abase, left, and Kadiza Sultana, centre (Picture: PA)
Shamima Begum, right, fled the UK for Syria with fellow teenagers Amira Abase, left, and Kadiza Sultana, centre (Picture: PA)
Ms Begum fled the UK to join IS in Syria (Picture: PA)
Ms Begum fled the UK to join IS in Syria (Picture: PA)

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday at his home in the Sunamganj region of north-east Bangladesh, he said: “I am on the side of the government. I can’t say whether it is right or wrong, but if the law of the land says that it is correct to cancel her citizenship, then I agree.

“If she at least admitted she made a mistake then I would feel sorry for her and other people would feel sorry for her. But she does not accept her wrong.”

Mr Javid’s removal of Ms Begum’s citizenship came amid heated debate over whether the teenager should be able to return to the UK after she was found in a Syrian refugee camp with the terror group’s reign nearly over.

While many do not want to see Ms Begum return to the UK, others have argued she should face prosecution for her actions, and attempts at deradicalisation.

The Begum family’s lawyer Tasnime Akunjee said she was born in the UK, has never had a Bangladeshi passport and is not a dual citizen, which was confirmed by the Bangladeshi minister.