Shamima Begum in hijab (l) and in western clothing (r)

ITV News/YouTube

‘I would rather die than go back to ISIS’: A former U.K. citizen who joined ISIS at 15 asks to return home

A teen joined ISIS after the group interacted with her on Twitter—now she's begging to be allowed home

 

Colleen Cronin

Tech

Published Sep 16, 2021   Updated Sep 20, 2021, 12:16 pm CDT

A former ISIS recruit is asking to return to the United Kingdom, her home country, claiming that she no longer is a part of the terrorist organization.

In an interview with Good Morning Britain Wednesday from Syria, Shamima Begum made her case for why she should be allowed back in the U.K.

“If [ISIS] were to come to the gates right now, and say, ‘who wants to join us, and whoever doesn’t join us, we’ll kill them,’ I would rather die. I would rather die than go back to ISIS,” Begum said.

Years ago, Begum, along with two other teenage girls, initially engaged with ISIS on Twitter. She left her home in the United Kingdom to join the extremist group when she was 15. 

She claimed in the interview that she never killed anyone and was only involved in the group as a mother and wife. “I’m asking the British people to forgive me because I made a mistake at a very young age,” Begum, now 22, said.

Those who sympathized with Begum argued that she was only a young girl when she first associated with ISIS. They say the group groomed her using extremely effective online propaganda.

Other questions why the media gave her any airtime after she fled the country to join an enemy of the state.

Begum said that if British citizens were so upset by her actions, “Why don’t you bring me back and put me on trial.”

But the country already revoked her U.K. citizenship. It’s a decision former Home Secretary and current Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid said in an ITV interview he stands by.

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*First Published: Sep 16, 2021, 12:49 pm CDT