ISIS sympathiser Shamima Begum makes TV plea for forgiveness from British public

The 22 year old says the only crime she committed 'was being dumb enough to join ISIS'

Shamima Begum speaking to ITV's 'Good Morning Britain' from Al Roj camp in Syria. Photo: ITV
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Shamima Begum, who as a schoolgirl fled her east London home in 2015 to join ISIS, has asked the British people for forgiveness in a live TV interview from Syria.

Ms Begum, 22, who is in the Al Roj camp in Syria, had her British citizenship revoked by the Home Office on national security grounds in 2019.

She told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I know it’s very hard for the British people to try to forgive me because they have lived in fear of ISIS and lost loved ones because of ISIS, but I also have lived in fear of ISIS and I also lost loved ones because of ISIS, so I can sympathise with them in that way.

“I know it is very hard for them to forgive me but I say from the bottom of my heart that I am so sorry if I ever offended anyone by coming here, if I ever offended anyone by the things I said.

“The only crime I committed was being dumb enough to join ISIS," she said.

In a direct plea to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Ms Begum said: “I think I could very much help you in your fight against terrorism. And I want to help with that with giving my own experience from with these extremists and what they say and how they persuade people to do what they do and to come to places like Syria.

“I want them [the British public] to see me as an asset rather than a threat to them.”

Ms Begum had previously compared the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing – in which 22 men, women and children were killed when militant Salman Abedi detonated a suicide bomb – to military strikes on ISIS strongholds, calling the terrorist attack “retaliation".

“I do not believe that one evil justifies another evil,” Ms Begum said as she attempted to clarify her comments.

“I don't think that women and children should be killed for other people's motives and for other people's agendas.”

Ms Begum said she did not know that women and children were killed in Manchester.

She said she married Dutch militant Yago Riedijk 10 days after arriving in ISIS territory.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 22, 2015, Renu Begum, eldest sister of missing British girl Shamima Begum, holds a picture of her sister while being interviewed by the media in central London. The father of British teenager Shamima Begum, who went to Syria and married an Islamic State militant, insisted in an interview with AFP on February 25, 2019 that Britain must take her back before deciding any punishment. / AFP / POOL / POOL / LAURA LEAN

She left ISIS Syrian stronghold Raqqa in January 2017, she said, with her husband but her children, a girl aged 1 and a 3-month-old boy, both died.

Her third child died in the Al Roj camp in March 2019, shortly after he was born.

Ms Begum said she came to Syria expecting to get married, have children and “live a pure, Islamic life”. She denied being directly involved in terrorist preparations.

"At the time I did not know it (so-called Islamic State) was a death cult, I thought it was an Islamic community I was joining", she said. "I was being fed a lot of information on the internet by people."

She said she thought she was "groomed and taken advantage of and manipulated into" travelling to Syria.

In February 2021, the Supreme Court upheld a ruling which meant she could not return to the UK to appeal the decision to strip her of her citizenship. Another legal challenge remains unlikely as long as Ms Begum remains outside of Britain.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who when he was home secretary took the decision to revoke her citizenship, said, “it was absolutely the right decision to protect the British people”.

He rejected Ms Begum’s claims that she played no part in ISIS terrorism.

“I won’t go into details of the case, but what I will say is that you certainly haven’t seen what I saw,” he said.

“If you did know what I knew, because you are sensible, responsible people, you would have made exactly the same decision – of that I have no doubt.”

Updated: September 15, 2021, 11:26 AM