Shamima Begum, the former IS teenage bride who ran away from her home to join the IS, asserts that she can provide valuable information for identifying sleeper cells and preventing attacks. In an interview with the BBC, the 22-year-old IS refugee said she could contribute to society and that it would be wasteful to let her rot in a Syrian camp.
Shamima was 15 years old when she decided to leave her home in the UK and join IS forces in Syria. She was accompanied by two other east London schoolgirls. Her family believes the gang went to Syria in the hopes of finding and rescuing Sharmeena Begum, a close friend. Nine days after arriving in Syria, she married a Dutch recruit and resided under IS rule for more than three years.
In 2019, Anthony Lloyd, a war correspondent for The Times, found Shamima in the al-Roj refugee camp located on the borders of Syria. She was nine months pregnant when she was found, but the baby died of pneumonia later. Medical records indicate that she has suffered two miscarriages in the past.
Shamima Begum is now looking for a way back into the UK to reconcile with her family. In 2019, the Home Secretary revoked her British citizenship. Despite numerous attempts to contest the government's decision, none have been successful. There has been no such evidence to prove her involvement in the attacks. She is also ready to stand trial and face the consequences for her actions but she insists the only role she played was being a wife and mother. “I rather die than go back to IS,” exclaimed Shamima.
To prove her credibility as a reliable source for the government, Shamima termed the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing as “retaliation” for the bombings carried out by armed forces on IS strongholds. The Manchester bombings killed as many as 22 people, some of them of who were children. When questioned about her involvement with the IS, Shamima quoted, “It makes me sick to my stomach. It makes me hate myself". Shamima also promised to shed light upon the tactics employed by the IS to radicalize individuals into joining the forces. She hopes to save the lives of many innocent girls that fell into the same trap as herself and could not escape.
In an interview with Shamima’s husband, Yago Riedijik, he spoke about the tactics and propaganda which are employed by the IS recruits to lure people into joining the group. Yago, like many others including Shamima, was made to believe that they would be helping the Syrian people. He wishes to have a life of normalcy and hopes to reunite with Shamima and continue their life together. According to British intelligence, the girls who accompanied Shamima are presumed dead.
Health secretary Sajid Javid believes that Ms Shamima Begum would not be granted access to the UK to fight her citizenship case. He informed her that the decision to withdraw her citizenship was morally and legally correct and that it was made to protect British citizens' lives. The prison term for membership in a terrorist organization in the United Kingdom is up to 14 years. In February 2021, Begum lost her legal battle to return to Britain and appeal her citizenship revocation, as the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the British government.
Earlier this year, Liberty, a human rights group, called the revocation of Ms Begum's citizenship "an extremely dangerous precedent" and said a constitutionally-guaranteed right to a fair trial should not be taken away by democratic governments. Shamima believes the decision to revoke her citizenship to be unfair and unjust. Her family has promised her complete support and is determined to fight until she regains her citizenship and returns to a life of normalcy.
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