Shamima Begum, dubbed the “ISIS Bride” for joining the terrorist organization with her husband in 2015, is now asking for her U.K. citizenship to be restored.
Regretting the decision, Shamima Begum, 22, spoke in a live interview from a Syria detention camp where she pleaded her innocence.
When she left to join ISIS back in 2015, the British court stripped her of her UK citizenship, but Begum now says that she can prove that she never committed any terrorist acts and “would rather die” than go back to ISIS.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain Tuesday morning, Shamima Begum said that, “I know there are some people, no matter what I say or what I do, they will not believe that I have changed,” but, “believe that I want to help.”
“For those who have even a drop of mercy and compassion and empathy in their hearts, I tell you from the bottom of my heart that I regret every, every decision I’ve made since I stepped into Syria and I will live with it for the rest of my life,” she said.
Leaving the country at 15 to marry a Dutch extremist who she met in the Netherlands named Yago Riedijk, she, and two of her classmates, fled the country unaware of what ISIS represented. Born in the U.K., Shamima Begum’s parents are of Bangladeshi heritage.
Shamima Begum told reporters that she had three children while living in the jihadist camp, but that all of her children died within the last five years. One of the children, she said, died of pneumonia, which went untreated.
Now living in a Syrian refuge camp, she claimed that she cannot return home because the British government revoked her citizenship in 2019 on the ground of national security. She was also unable to get her passport restored.
“I did not want to hurt anyone in Syria or anywhere else in the world,” she said in the live interview. “At the time I did not know it was a death cult, I thought it was an Islamic community.”
Speaking to the British government, she offered her services as someone with inside information into the terrorist organization, alleging that she could, “very much help you in your fight against terrorism because you clearly don’t know what you’re doing.”
Health Secretary Sajid Javid stood by his call however, telling, Good Morning Britain that he still thinks it was “absolutely the right decision.”
The decision to block her citizenship was, “based on the advice of my department but also our intelligence agencies,” he said, in an effort to “protect the British people.”
“When I saw what I did and the information I received from my advisers and our intelligence agencies, in the end it was a very clear-cut decision,” Javid said.
The Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that she would not be able to return. In a statement to The Guardian, a spokesman from the British Home Office said that, “The government’s top priority remains maintaining our national security and keeping the public safe.”
Shamima Begum held the position that she should be able to return and argue her side in British court. She said on television that it would only be just if she could tell her story in the country of her birth.
“I am willing to go to court and face the people who made these claims and refute these claims, because I know I did nothing in ISIS but be a mother and a wife,” she said. “These claims are being made to make me look worse because the government do not have anything on me.”