Shamima Begum: who is she, what has she said about joining ISIS, and what happened to her friends?

Shamima Begum left to join Islamic State when she was 15 in 2015 and remains stripped of British citizenship

Amira Abase, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Shamima Begum, 15, (pictured left to right) at Gatwick airport in February 2015 (PA)
Amira Abase, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Shamima Begum, 15, (pictured left to right) at Gatwick airport in February 2015 (PA)

Shamima Begum is pleading with the British public to give her a “second chance” after she fled to Syria in 2015 before losing three babies and becoming a child bride.

Begum’s British citizenship was revoked on national security grounds shortly after she was found, nine months’ pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019 – and now she cannot return to Britain to appeal against the removal.

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Now, in her latest interview, she says she was “just a dumb kid who made one mistake” and reveals how she felt suicidal after all of her children and two friends died.

Shamima Begum still has her citizenship revoked and is urging the UK to let her come back (PA)

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Who is Shamima Begum?

Begum, 21, was 15 when she and two other east London schoolgirls from Bethnal Green travelled to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State group (IS) in February 2015.

She said she married Dutch convert Yago Riedijk 10 days after arriving in IS territory.

She told The Times in 2019 that her children, a one-year-old girl and a three-month-old boy, had both since died.

Her third child died in the al-Roj camp in March 2019, shortly after he was born from pneumonia.

She previously told reporters her two other children died from malnutrition and disease.

What has she said about joining Isis?

In her latest interview with journalist Andrew Dury, she told him she does not need to be rehabilitated if she returns to the UK - instead she claims that she wishes to help others.

She was speaking to him during an interview for a film called Danger Zone at al-Roj prison camp in Syria - near the Turkish and Iranian border - while wearing a black Nike baseball cap, skinny jeans and a white t-shirt.

She told Drury, reported in the Daily Mail, that she was “young and naive” when she took off for Syria.

She said: “I don’t think I was a terrorist. I think I was just a dumb kid who made one mistake.

“I personally don’t think that I need to be rehabilitated, but I would want to help other people be rehabilitated. I would love to help.”

She also made claims that she joined the Islamic State because she didn't want to be the “friend that was left behind” - in a documentary about her life in a Syrian refugee camp.

She told Drury that while she has been in Syria that she’s watched re-runs of Friends and enjoys Kanye West’s music – and has been able to read about his marriage with Kim Kardashian.

Asked what she would say to those in the UK who do not want her to return, Begum said: “Can I come home please, pretty please?”

What happened to her friends?

Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana - her two school pals who she fled the UK with - were killed in the city of Baghuz, leaving Begum to tell their parents.

“Now I feel like I have no friends anymore, they were everything I had,” she told Drury for the Daily Mail.

Begum also revealed she wanted to kill herself when her three children died in Syria and begged Britain to give her a “second chance”.

She hopes British citizens will keep an open mind and gave Drury, a dad-of-four, an emotional farewell hug as he left the camp.

He went on to tell cameras that he had changed his mind about Begum being a terrorist and she should be allowed back into the UK - and serve time for her crimes.

He said: “This girl is a vulnerable 21-year-old who did something unbelievably stupid. It was a childish mistake from a 15-year-old.”