ISIS bride Shamima Begum apologized for joining the terror group and appealed to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to allow her to return to the UK, saying in her first live TV interview she’d “rather die” than go back to the jihadists.
“I know there are some people, no matter what I say or what I do, they will not believe that I have changed, believe that I want to help,” she told ITV’s “Good Morning Britain.”
“But for those who have even a drop of mercy and compassion and empathy in their hearts, I tell you from the bottom of my heart that I regret every, every decision I’ve made since I stepped into Syria and I will live with it for the rest of my life,” she said.
Begum was just 15 when she and two classmates set off for Syria to join ISIS. She has said she married an extremist from the Netherlands and had three children, all of whom have died.
Now 22 and living in a refugee camp in Syria, Begum has sought to return home, but the British government revoked her citizenship on national security grounds in 2019 and she has fought unsuccessfully to have her passport restored.
Begum, who wore lipstick, a gray tank top and a Nike baseball cap for the interview, said she had been misled when she went to Syria.
Addressing the prime minister, she offered a critical message: “I think I could very much help you in your fight against terrorism because you clearly don’t know what you’re doing.”
“I did not want to hurt anyone in Syria or anywhere else in the world. At the time I did not know it was a death cult, I thought it was an Islamic community,” she said.
Sajid Javid, who as home secretary made the decision to revoke Begum’s citizenship, stood by his choice, telling ITV News on Wednesday that it was “absolutely the right decision.”
“When I saw what I did and the information I received from my advisors and our intelligence agencies, in the end it was a very clear cut decision,” Javid said.
Begum acknowledged that it might be difficult for some Britons to forgive her, as they have lived “in fear of ISIS and lost loved ones,” but noted that “I have also lived in fear of ISIS and also lost loved ones.”
Begum has described the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing — in which 22 people died when jihadist Salman Abedi detonated a suicide bomb – as a “retaliation” for military strikes on ISIS strongholds.
She now clarified her comments.
“I do not believe that one evil justifies another evil. I don’t think that women and children should be killed for other people’s motives and for other people’s agendas,” she said.
Begum added that when she initially made the remarks, she did not know that women and children were hurt in Manchester.
“I did not know about the Manchester bombing when I was asked. I did not know that people were killed, I did not know that women and children were hurt because of it,” she said.