Nineteen-year-old Shamima Begum, the British ISIS schoolgirl who left the UK to joint ISIS and become jihadi brides. She now wants to come back to raise her baby. The story made headlines as Shamima was one of three girls from Bethnal Green Academy in London, all of whom became radicalized together.
In 2015, three teenage girls from Britain crossed into Syria to join the Islamic State. Shamima Begum was one of them. The girls were believed to be radicalized online. Shamima had come in contact with Aqsa Mahmood, a young Scottish woman who became radicalized and travelled to Syria. Three weeks after she arrived in Syria — and just fifteen-years-old at the time — Shamima married a young Dutch Islamic State fighter by the name of Yago Riedijk.
Nine months pregnant, and after having already lost two children, Shamima surprised the world by appearing on a video saying she now wants to return to the UK to give birth to her baby. She knows child will have better access to resources and care. On Feb.17, her family announced that she had given birth to a boy.
What is most concerning about this story is Shamima’s nonchalant unrepentant attitude toward her decisions. As heard in the interview below, she doesn’t regret her life choices, nor does she sound impacted or disturbed the things she saw while living with the Islamic state.
In fact, her tone and language normalize the brutality of the terror group, when she says, “I saw a beheaded head in the bin [trash can]. It didn’t faze me at all.”
Shamima admits to witnessing corruption and oppression under the Islamic State, which is why she doesn’t believe the terror organization deserves victory. However, it’s important to single out this isn’t remorse for her decision, worldview or the presence of the caliphate. The oppression she speaks of is Muslim-on-Muslim oppression. According to her audio interview above, it is safe to conclude the doesn’t see the barbaric and brutal treatment of non-Muslims at the hands of ISIS terrorists as a form of oppression.
Whether we allow someone like Shamima back into Britain is a wider ongoing conversation, especially in light of new hopes for deradicalization programs. If she is denied a return to the UK, that decision also comes with a heavy heart because of how that decision impacts an innocent baby. We can already imagine that child’s fate living under the Islamic state and with Shamima as a mother.