Former Isis-bride Shamima Begum has begged the British public for forgiveness, saying there is “no evidence” she was a key player in preparing terrorist acts.
The 22-year-old, who fled her east London home for Syria as a 15-year-old schoolgirl, said she wanted to be brought back to the UK and face terror charges in order to prove her innocence.
She told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I am willing to go to court and face the people who made these claims and refute these claims, because I know I did nothing in IS (so-called Islamic State) but be a mother and a wife.
“These claims are being made to make me look worse because the Government do not have anything on me.
“There is no evidence because nothing ever happened.”
She said she would “rather die than go back to IS” and added: “The only crime I committed was being dumb enough to join IS.”
The 22-year-old, who had her British citizenship revoked by the Home Office over security concerns, appeared from the camp in Syria where she is being detained, wearing a Nike baseball cap, a grey vest, and with pink nail varnish on her hands.
EXCLUSIVE: Shamima Begum says she'd 'rather die' than go back to ISIS.@richardm56 questions whether Ms Begum would still be in ISIS if they had not been 'destroyed'.
— Good Morning Britain (@GMB) September 15, 2021
Asking for forgiveness, she said: “I know it’s very hard for the British people to try and forgive me because they have lived in fear of IS and lost loved ones because of IS, but I also have lived in fear of IS and I also lost loved ones because of IS, so I can sympathise with them in that way.
“I know it is very hard for them to forgive me but I say from the bottom of my heart that I am so sorry if I ever offended anyone by coming here, if I ever offended anyone by the things I said.
“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.
“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.”
In a direct plea to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Begum said: “I think I could very much help you in your fight against terrorism because you clearly don’t know what you’re doing.”
She added: “I want them (the British public) to see me as an asset rather than a threat to them.”
Begum had previously compared the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing – in which 22 men, women and children died after homegrown jihadi Salman Abedi detonated a suicide bomb – to military strikes on IS strongholds, calling the terror attack “retaliation”.
But she clarified her comments on Wednesday.
She said: “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.”
Begum said she did not know that women and children were hurt in Manchester.
She said: “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.”
Begum said she married Dutch convert Yago Riedijk 10 days after arriving in IS territory.
She told The Times that she left Raqqa in January 2017 with her husband but her children, a one-year-old girl and a three-month-old boy, had both died.
Her third child died in the al-Roj camp in March 2019, shortly after he was born.