Shamima Begum offers to help Boris Johnson combat terrorism – 'You don't know what you're doing'

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·Political Correspondent - Yahoo News UK
·5-min read
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Watch: Shamima Begum tells PM - 'You don't know what you're doing'

Shamima Begum has offered to help Boris Johnson combat extremism in the UK, saying the PM is “clearly struggling" to deal with terrorism.

British-born Begum left her home in east London for Syria in 2015 at the age of 15 to join the so-called Isis terror group, also known as Daesh, after being radicalised online.

“I want to help with that, telling you my own experience with these extremists, telling you what they say, how they persuade people to do what they do and to come to places like Syria,” she told Good Morning Britain's Susanna Reid and Richard Madeley. 

“I could very much help you in your fight against terrorism, because you clearly don’t know what you’re doing."

"People that I was speaking to online they just, they created this image for me of paradise, an Islamic paradise. 

"They made me feel bad for wanting to stay in the UK, for wanting to stay with my family who weren't even practising [Islam] at the time. 

Shamima Begum told Good Morning Britain she doesn't want the British public to see her as a threat. (ITV)
Shamima Begum told Good Morning Britain she doesn't want the British public to see her as a threat. (ITV)

"And they took advantage of me because they knew I was young." 

In 2019, after Isis had been ousted from control in its remaining strongholds in Syria, Begum ended up in the al-Roj refugee camp in Syria and began to seek to return to the UK with her newborn son, Jarrah; she had lost two children prior after being married to an Isis fighter when she arrived in Syria as a child. 

The UK government stripped her of her citizenship – a decision Begum is appealing – and refused to allow her to return. Jarrah subsequently died in the camp.

Her case became an intensely controversial topic in the UK, and she continues to make legal appeals to British courts to return home, but was recently refused re-entry to the UK to fight her case in person.

"You can't, you know, judge a 15-year-old for making a mistake which he or she very quickly regretted making," she said. 

Watch: Richard Madeley compares Shamima Begum to the Hitler Youth

"The fact that you think I should rather rot here, instead of face trial... the democracy that you live in, says that everyone deserves a fair trial." 

She added, “I would rather die than go back to IS [Isis],” and that it was “not justifiable to kill innocent people in the name of religion.”

Begum caused outrage in 2019 after an interview in The Times in which she said: “When I saw my first severed head in a bin it didn’t faze me at all.

"It was from a captured fighter seized on the battlefield, an enemy of Islam.

"I thought only of what he would have done to a Muslim woman if he had the chance.”

Now, Begum claims that she felt she had to say this as she says she was at risk of violence from radicalised women within the Syrian refugee camp she was staying in.

“No-one can hate me more than I hate myself for what I’ve done, and all I can say is I’m sorry - and just give me a second chance,” she told Good Morning Britain.

Undated file photo of Islamic State bride Shamima Begum who said she regrets speaking to the media and wishes she had found a different way to contact her family.
Shamima Begum went to Syria when she was 15. (PA)

Then-home secretary Sajid Javid, who is now health secretary, later spoke to Good Morning Britain and said: “Obviously I can’t go into details of any individual case, but obviously when you make a decision of that type, you don’t do it lightly and it was based on the advice of my department but also our intelligence agencies and I’m clear that it was the right decision to protect the British people.

"If you were the home secretary and you were presented with the information that I had at the time, you would've made exactly the same decision, because your job as home secretary is to protect the British people.”

“As for coming back, that’s gone to the highest court in the land and they supported my decision unanimously. I think it’s pretty clear cut.”

Last week, the head of Britain's MI5 domestic spy service warned the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan will provide a "morale boost" to extremists plotting attacks elsewhere, and could again give them a base to operate as they did in the run-up to 9/11.

Ken McCallum said the threat to Britain from terrorism was "a real and enduring thing".

Mourners view tributes in St Ann's Square, Manchester, as they prepare to mark the passing of exactly a week since the Manchester Arena terror attack.
Mourners view tributes in St Ann's Square, Manchester, after 22 people died in a suicide bombing at Manchester Arena. (PA)

Britain last faced major attacks in 2017, when a bomber struck a concert in Manchester and knife-wielding men attacked two bridges in London. 

In the four years since, police and intelligence services had disrupted 31 late-stage plots to attack Britain, McCallum said. Such militants would be inspired by the Taliban success.

The Taliban have promised they will not let Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden plotted the 9/11 attacks when they were last in power, again become a haven for militants planning to strike the West. But McCallum said there was a risk that this would be exactly what happens.

Begum appeared in the Sky documentary The Return: Life After Isis earlier this year alongside other women from a refugee camp in Syria who had also left ISIS after been radicalised.

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