Shamima Begum asks Brits to give her a 'second chance' in new documentary

17 March 2021, 19:27 | Updated: 18 March 2021, 19:29

Shamima Begum has pleaded with the British public to give her a second chance
Shamima Begum has pleaded with the British public to give her a second chance. Picture: LBC
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Former Isis bride Shamima Begum has asked the British public to give her a "second chance" in a new documentary released on Wednesday.

The UK-born woman, who fled Britain six years ago at the age of 15, pleaded with people to "put aside everything they've heard about me" while being interviewed for the film.

Ms Begum travelled from Bethnal Green to war-torn Syria, east London, as a teenager to join the terror group's self-declared "caliphate".

Upon arrival, she married an Isis fighter from the Netherlands and gave birth to three children, all of whom died.

Once the group was defeated, the now-21-year-old ended up at the Roj refugee camp in Syria, where she was tracked down and interviewed by journalists in February 2019.

Last month, she lost an appeal to have her UK citizenship reinstated on the grounds of national security after former home secretary Sajid Javid removed that right two years ago.

The new documentary, titled 'The Return: Life After Isis', aired on Wednesday and saw Ms Begum tell filmmakers why she will battle to prevent her citizenship from being revoked.

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“Okay, um... My name's Shamima. I'm from the UK. I'm 19,” she said.

“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."

During the production, filmmakers spoke to other Western women at the Kurdish-run refugee camp across several months in 2019, soon after Ms Begum's location was revealed.

The film shows the now-21-year-old taking part in therapy sessions with other refugees, including US-born Hoda Muthana and Canadian Kimberly Polman.

She also claimed to have been forced to tell reporters she “doesn’t regret” joining Islamic State for fear that other women in the camp might kill her.

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The documentary’s director Alba Sotorra told the AFP news agency: “Shamima was a piece of ice when I met her.

“She lost the kid when I was there, it took a while to be able to cry. I think it's just surviving, you need to protect yourself to survive.”

After the Supreme Court rejected her bid to return to the UK to challenge the move to strip her of her citizenship, human rights campaigners branded the decision a "disgrace".

Sir Anish Kapoor, the sculptor who designed the Orbit tower in London's Olympic Park, said the ban was a “disgraceful indictment of our national conscience”.

He said: “Imagine that four young white schoolgirls from Wiltshire were enticed to go to Syria and join Isis. Would they be seen as terrorists or victims of terrorists?

“We have no doubt that we would be demanding that no expense be spared and not a moment wasted in having them returned to the safety of their homes in England.”

During the documentary, Ms Begum also said she did not know or support the horrific crimes of Isis fighters and branded herself at that time as a "naive" teenager who could not even "speak the language".