Posted on February 14, 2019
British IS schoolgirl ‘wants to return home’
One of three schoolgirls who left east London in 2015 to join the Islamic State group says she has no regrets, but wants to return to the UK.
In an interview with the Times, Shamima Begum, now 19, talked about seeing “beheaded heads” in bins – but said that it “did not faze her”.
Speaking from a refugee camp in Syria, she said she was nine months pregnant and wanted to come home for her baby.
She said she’d had two other children who had both died.
She also described how one of her two school friends that had left the UK with her had died in a bombing. The fate of the third girl is unclear.
‘It was like a normal life’
Bethnal Green Academy pupils Ms Begum and Amira Abase were both 15, while Kadiza Sultana was 16, when they left the UK in February 2015.
They flew from Gatwick Airport to Turkey after telling their parents they were going out for the day. They later crossed the border into Syria.
After arriving in Raqqa, she stayed at a house with other newly arrived brides-to-be, she told the Times.
“I applied to marry an English-speaking fighter between 20 and 25 years old,” she said.
Ten days later she married a 27-year-old Dutch man who had converted to Islam.
She has been with him since then, and the couple escaped from Baghuz – the group’s last territory in eastern Syria – two weeks ago.
Her husband surrendered to a group of Syrian fighters as they left, and she is now one of 39,000 people in a refugee camp in northern Syria.
Asked by Times journalist Anthony Loyd whether her experiences of living in the one-time IS stronghold of Raqqa had lived up to her aspirations, Ms Begum said: “Yes, it did. It was like a normal life. The life that they show on the propaganda videos – it’s a normal life.
“Every now and then there are bombs and stuff. But other than that…”
She said that seeing her first “severed head” in a bin “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,” she said.
“I’m not the same silly little 15-year-old schoolgirl who ran away from Bethnal Green four years ago,” she told Mr Loyd.
“I don’t regret coming here.”