Shamima Begum says her ‘world fell apart’ after she lost UK citizenship appeal

Jihadi bride Shamima Begum has said her “world fell apart” after she lost the first stage of her appeal against being stripped of her British citizenship earlier this month.

Speaking from a camp in Syria, the 20-year-old, who fled east London when she was 15 to join Isis, said she had done nothing wrong before joining the terror group.

She told ABC News: "When my citizenship [appeal] got rejected, I felt like my whole world fell apart right in front of me.

“You know, especially the way I was told. I wasn't even told by a government official. I had to be told by journalists.

Jihadi bride Shamima Begum was pictured in front of a British flag embroidered on a cushion (Picture: James Longman/ABC)
Shamima Begum in front of a British flag embroidered on a cushion. (James Longman/ABC)

"I kind of saw it coming because I did do my research just before I came out. I thought I would be a bit different because I had not done anything wrong before I came to Isis.”

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Shamima Begum has said she regrets comments made in her earlier media appearances (Picture: BBC)
Shamima Begum has said she regrets comments made in her earlier media appearances. (BBC)

Last year she claimed she had been “brainwashed” by Isis and wanted to return to the UK for a “second chance”.

Handout still taken from CCTV issued by the Metropolitan Police of (left to right) 15-year-old Amira Abase, Kadiza Sultana,16 and Shamima Begum,15 at Gatwick airport, before they caught their flight to Turkey on Tuesday. The three schoolgirls believed to have fled to Syria to join Islamic State. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday February 22, 2015. See PA story POLICE Syria. Photo credit should read: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire  NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Shamima Begum, right, fled the UK to join Isis in Syria with two other east London schoolgirls in February 2015. (PA)

When asked by ABC News foreign correspondent James Longman about previous media appearances in which she appeared unrepentant, Begum said: “I had just come into the camp. I had just given birth.

“I was hearing all these stories about women threatening other women, you know, folk uncovering their faces or speaking to men or doing interviews or anything like that. I just was afraid for my life."

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She was interviewed by ABC along with US/Canadian Isis bride Kimberly Polman, with whom she shares a tent in Roj, a camp managed by the Western-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

Polman has knitted Begum a cushion decorated with the British flag.

Begum was one of three schoolgirls who travelled to Syria to join Isis in February 2015. She was found, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February last year, prompting then home secretary Sajid Javid to strip her of her British citizenship.

Her case has sparked debate over the question of whether or not British Isis fighters should be allowed to return home.

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Begum took legal action against the Home Office at both the High Court and the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, a specialist tribunal that hears challenges to decisions to remove someone’s British citizenship on national security grounds.

Her lawyers argued that Javid’s decision was unlawful as it rendered her stateless, but the tribunal found in a ruling earlier this month that when her British citizenship was revoked, she was “a citizen of Bangladesh by descent” and was therefore not rendered stateless.

Undated File photo of Shamima Begum, who is set to find out from the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) tribunal whether the decision to revoke her British citizenship was lawful.
Shamima Begum lost the first stage of an appeal against losing her British citizenship. (PA)

In a separate judgment, the High Court rejected Begum’s challenge to the Home Office’s decision to refuse to allow her to enter the UK in order to effectively pursue her appeal.

Begum said she married Dutch convert Yago Riedijk 10 days after arriving in Syria.

She said she left Raqqa, Syria, in January 2017 with her husband but that her children, a one-year-old girl and a three-month-old boy, had both since died.

Her third child died shortly after he was born in the refugee camp last March.