Shamima Begum says she was 'groomed' by Islamic State
A British woman who travelled to Syria as a teenager to marry an Islamic State (IS) fighter has said she was "groomed" by the extremist group and asked the UK government for a fair trial.
Shamima Begum was a 15-year-old schoolgirl when she left London in 2015 for IS' so-called caliphate.
Begum, now 22, appeared on ITV's 'Good Morning Britain' from a refugee camp in Syria, where she asked the British people for forgiveness.
“I know it’s very hard for the British people to try and forgive me because they have lived in fear of Isis (IS) 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,” she said.
“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.”
Begum said she did not know what she was getting into when she left the UK for Syria.
“The reason I came to Syria was not for violent reasons… At the time I did not know [IS] was a death cult. I thought it was an Islamic community I was joining.
“I was being fed a lot of information on the internet by people.”
She added that she thought she was “groomed and taken of advantage of and manipulated into” travelling to Syria.
Begum was stripped of her British citizenship by the Home Office on national security grounds earlier this year.
She denied any involvement in illegal activity, dismissing claims made in a report by The Daily Telegraph which claimed Begum was an “enforcer” in the terror group’s “morality police”, and tried to recruit young women.
EXCLUSIVE: Shamima Begum says she'd 'rather die' than go back to ISIS.@richardm56 questions whether Ms Begum would still be in ISIS if they had not been 'destroyed'.— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) September 15, 2021
Watch GMB now 👉 https://t.co/6iQ6ebeOEQ pic.twitter.com/zmI3zBeXeT
An anti-IS activist told The Independent that there were allegations against her claiming she stitched suicide bombers into vests so that “they could not be removed without detonating”.
Begum told GMB presenters: “I am willing to go to court and face the people who made these claims, because I know I did nothing in IS but be a mother and a wife.
“These claims are being made to make it look worse because the government do not have anything on me.
“There is no evidence because nothing ever happened. I would rather die than go back to IS”.
She also addressed comments she made to a BBC journalist in 2019 when asked about the Manchester Arena bombing that had taken place two years earlier, killing 22 people and injuring more than 1,000.
Begum had said that it was wrong to kill innocent people, but that IS felt it was justified as retaliation for bombing IS-held areas.
“I do not believe that one evil justifies another evil. I don’t think that women and children should be killed for other people’s motives and for other people's agendas.”
She added: “I did not know that people were killed, I did not know that women and children were hurt because of it.”