LONDON (DPA) – A British teenager who left London as a schoolgirl in 2015 to join Islamic State wants to return home, the Times reported on Wednesday (Wed 13).
“I’m not the same silly little 15-year-old schoolgirl who ran away from Bethnal Green four years ago,” Shamima Begum told the Times in an exclusive interview. “And I don’t regret coming here.”
In February 2015, Begum travelled to Syria with Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase, fellow students at East London’s Bethnal Green Academy.
The three friends joined classmate Sharmeena Begum who left London in December 2014, with each marrying an Islamic State foreign fighter shortly after arriving in Raqqah, Begum told the Times.
Begum said that the three girls were put in a “house for women” when they first arrived. She was soon married to a Dutchman, while her friends were married to an American, an Australian and a Bosnian.
Speaking from Al Hol camp, in north-eastern Syria, a heavily pregnant Begum said she had fled from the fighting in Baghouz, where the extremist group was battling to retain its last foothold in the region.
“I could not endure the suffering and hardship that staying on the battlefield involved,” the 19-year-old told the Times.
“But I was also frightened that the child I am about to give birth to would die like my other children if I stayed on. So I fled the caliphate. Now all I want to do is come home to Britain.”
Begum said that her friends, whose husbands have died, decided to stay behind in Baghouz.
“It was their own choice as women to stay.”
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