Shamima Begum says she joined Isis to avoid being the friend left behind

  • 2 days   ago
Shamima Begum says she joined Isis to avoid being the friend left behind


Former child bride begs UK to give her a second chance

Shamima Begum has claimed she fled to join Isis in Syria because she did not want to be left behind by her friends.

The 21-year-old, who left east London with two classmates, Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase, said she was “young and naive” and wanted to help people in Syria.

Ms Begum told the Sky documentary The Return: Life After Isis that the three schoolgirls had been preyed upon by Isis supporters online.

The Bethnal Green schoolgirls, then aged 15 and 16, took a Turkish Airlines flight from Gatwick to Istanbul before crossing into Syria.

She said the recruiters preyed upon their guilt at seeing Muslims suffering in Syria and encouraged them to become “part of something”.

“I knew it was a big decision but I just felt compelled to do it quickly. I didn’t want to be the friend that was left behind,” Ms Begum said.

The former child bride is being held at the al-Roj camp in northern Syria after her British citizenship was revoked.

In the documentary, she sobs while discussing the loss of her three children during the Syrian civil war.


She speaks of wanting to kill herself because of the grief she feels, adding: “The only thing keeping me alive was my baby I was pregnant with. I felt like it was my fault for not getting them out sooner even though I didn’t know why they died.”

Ms Begum gave birth to three children in Syria, all of whom died during infancy.

The director of the documentary, Alba Sotorra, said Ms Begun was not a threat and needed help.

She told The Times: “In the beginning, Shamima was like a ghost just sitting there, covered, lifeless, like a marionette, a doll.”

The director met Ms Begum while making a film about a workshop run by Kurdish women inside the detention camp.

“Her lack of ability to express her feelings made me feel deeply sad for her. Then, maybe two months after I met her, we had this game with the kids,” she added.

“The kids were playing with kites. Shamima was always very silent. And she sat on one of these carts watching. I saw a teardrop fall from her eye. It was the first time.”

Ms Begum begs in the documentary for the UK to give her a second chance, because she was “still young” when she left.

“I would ask that they put aside everything they’ve heard about me and just have an open mind about why I left and who I am now as a person,” she added.

“I just want them to put aside everything they've heard about me in the media and just have an open mind about why I left and who I am now as a person."

The documentary can be seen on Sky Documentaries and the streaming service Now on 15 June.