Good Morning Britain: Shamima Begum Says She Was Groomed In First Live TV Appearance
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Shamima Begum took part in her first live television interview on Good Morning Britain on Wednesday to discuss why she’s desperate to come home, telling presenters she believes she was "groomed" into travelling to Syria.
Watch the video below:
Shamima left her home in Bethnal Green, east London to join ISIS in Syria at just 15 years old. She is currently being held at the Al-Roj refugee camp after being stripped of her UK citizenship on national security grounds.
Shamima explained to hosts Susanna Reid and Richard Madeley that she travelled to Syria because she thought she was "doing the right thing."
She explained: "The reason I came to ISIS and Syria was not for any violent reasons, not because I wanted to become a terrorist, it was because I thought I was doing the right thing as a muslim. I did not want to hurt anyone in Syria or anywhere else in the world.”
When Susanna then probed what she meant by "wanting to do the right thing’" by leaving her family behind to join a ‘death cult’, Shamima said: “At the time, personally, I did not know that it was a death cult.
"I thought that it was an Islamic community that I was joining and at the time, I had recently started to become very religious and I was being fed a lot of information on the internet by people in ISIS telling me that I need to come because I can’t be a good muslim in the UK and that my family will only drag me down…”
Richard asked: “Are you saying you were groomed?”
Shamima responded: “I think yes. I was groomed and taken advantage of and manipulated into coming, yeah.”
When asked what she expected to happen to her once she arrived in Syria, Shamima said: “To just get married and have children and to live a pure Islamic life.
"I knew there was war, but not in the places where women and children were living… I thought where I was going would be safe for me and any children I would have."
After Shamima left the UK in 2015, she married Dutch Isis fighter Yago Riedijk and they had three children who all died young.
She continued: "I did not know that ISIS was trying to take over the world. I just thought they wanted a small piece of land where they could live an Islamic life.”
Shamima also explained she cannot travel to Bangladesh after her UK citizenship was revoked because she believes she would face the death penalty. "Personally, I’ve never been to Bangladesh, and Bangladesh have already said they they would never let me in and if I did that it would be the death penalty for me.
"So how can the UK expect me to go to a country where I will be killed?”
She also made a desperate appeal to former home secretary Sajid Javid regarding her citizenship: “I understand why, it’s his job to think about the interest of the UK before anything else.
"What he saw in the media was not the true me, and if he was to meet me himself, I’m sure he would change his mind about me.”
Shamima said she would be willing to accept a prison sentence if she were to ever return to the UK.
“I would. If it was a fair trial and I was given the chance and give my side of the story and if a judge really said ‘you need to go to jail’ then I would have to accept that," she said.
"The only crime I’ve committed is being dumb enough to come to ISIS and even that can be refuted because I was 15 when I came and you can’t judge a 15 year old for making a mistake, which I very quickly regretted.”
Sajid Javid appeared on the show after Shamima's interview and said he believed it was the "right decision for the British people" based on advice from his department and their intelligence service.
"If you were the home secretary and you were presented with the information that I had at the time, you would've made exactly the same decision," he told the Good Morning Britain presenters.
"Because your job as Home Secretary is to protect the British people.
“As for coming back, that’s gone to the highest court in the land and they supported my decision unanimously. I think it’s pretty clear cut.”
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