Author: Tom Davidson
Shamima Begum has asked her family to forgive her and not give up trying to get her back to the UK in an extraordinary interview from a Syrian refugee camp.
The 19-year-old new mother, who gave birth to her third child on Saturday, is desperate to return to the UK.
She fled her Bethnal Green home in 2015 at the age of 15 to join the ranks of ISIS and married a fighter for the Islamic State within three weeks.
She ignored pleas from her family to return home and instead settled in the caliphate.
The teenager said she does not regret joining ISIS, but has asked for her family’s sympathy and their help in returning to the UK.
She fears her newborn son will die in the refugee camp in northern Syria where she is being held.
Ms Begum was speaking next to her newborn son, who she has named after her previous son who died, in accordance with her husband’s wishes.
The teenager admitted having previously given her family “a big slap in the face” by ignoring their pleas to return. But she has now turned around and is pleading to come back to the UK.
She said: “After four years I’m asking them for help now, it’s kind of a big slap in the face to them.”
She added that she wanted to be able to say sorry to them.
Ms Begum was asked by Sky News’ Andy Sparks if she regretted joining ISIS.
She replied “It’s made me tougher, stronger. I married my husband – I wouldn’t have found someone like him back in the UK.
“I had my kids, I did have a good time there, just at the end things got harder and I couldn’t take it any more.”
But she did say: “I didn’t know what I was getting into when I left.”
When it was put to her that people in Britain may have concerns about the views she may still have about IS, she said: “That’s something they have to question me about before they take my child away, I guess.
Shamima was one of three schoolgirls, along with Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase, from Bethnal Green Academy who left the UK to travel to Syria in February 2015.
Should she return, she faces probable prosecution for terrorist offences.
Her family, who believe she was groomed, pleaded for her to be allowed back to the UK “as a matter of urgency”.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid has warned he “will not hesitate” to prevent the return of Britons who travelled to join IS, but Justice Secretary David Gauke told Sky News “we can’t make people stateless”.