Former Isis bride Shamima Begum says she fled to Syria to avoid being the 'friend left behind'

·3 min read
The story of Shamima Begum is among the ones told in documentary 'The Return: Life After ISIS'. (MetFilm/Sky)
The story of Shamima Begum is among the ones told in documentary 'The Return: Life After ISIS'. (MetFilm/Sky)

Shamima Begum has claimed she fled the UK to join Isis because she did not want to be the “friend that was left behind”. 

The 21-year-old, who left for Syria aged 15 with two other east London schoolgirls in 2015, has reportedly told a new documentary that she was “young and naive”.

Begum is currently detained in the al-Roj refugee camp in northern Syria after her British citizenship was removed by the UK government. 

The UK’s Supreme Court ruled in February that Begum cannot return to pursue an appeal against the removal of her British citizenship.

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In the film, The Return: Life After ISIS, Begum gives the most detailed account of her departure from the UK to date, according to the Telegraph

The newspaper reports that Begum describes herself as the “black sheep” of her family, who did not get along with her mother and instead turned to Islam to be “part of something”. 

Speaking from the al-Roj camp, she tells filmmakers how recruiters preyed on the guilt that the young girls felt at seeing Muslims suffering in Syria.

Watch: Who is Shamima Begum?

Begum reportedly describes the moment she decided to leave the UK, saying: “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.”

Since fleeing six years ago, her two friends, and all three of the children she has given birth to, have died. 

On the death of her daughter, Begum said: “When she died at that moment I just wanted to kill myself. I felt like I couldn’t even get up to run anymore when there were bombings.

“The only thing keeping me alive was my baby I was pregnant with. I felt like I had to do him right by getting him out and giving him a normal life.”

Her son then died one month after he was born in 2019 from pneumonia. 

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Begum also reportedly pleads for the UK government to allow her to return, adding: “I would say to the people in the UK, give me a second chance because I was still young when I left.”

“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," she added. 

The Return: Life After Isis will be available on Sky Documentaries and NOW TV from June 15 at 9pm.

Watch: Shamima Begum: IS bride angry, upset and crying after court rules shecan't