Shamima Begum has claimed that joining the Islamic State in Syria was a mistake she made as a “dumb kid.”
In a documentary aired last night Ms Begum spoke about her decision as a 15-year-old to run away from home in Bethnal Green, east London, to travel to Syria along with two school friends. She said:
“I don’t think I was a terrorist. I think I was just a dumb kid who made one mistake,”
After marrying a Dutch Isis fighter, Ms Begum gave birth to three children, all of whom died of illness. She finally fled the last holdout IS territory in 2019 and was found by a journalist in a detention camp holding IS supporters and affiliates in northeast Syria.
Ms Begum has since distanced herself from her actions, in particular comments she made in her first interviews in which she displayed little remorse for joining the so-called Islamic State, by saying she was traumatised at the time.
Despite her protestations that she was just a child when she made the decision to join IS, Ms Begum has become a symbol of the thorny issue of how the British government should respond to requests to repatriate its citizens. The government maintains that she poses an ongoing terror threat – but Ms Begum has said she does not believe she requires a de-radicalisation programme.