Shamima Begum today claimed she was interrogated by Jihadi John after arriving in Syria – as she unconvincingly denied ever watching videos of ISIS atrocities before joining the death cult.
The jihadi bride said she met the fellow Londoner in ISIS’s ‘capital city’ of Raqqa. Speaking on BBC podcast I’m Not A Monster, she described how she and the two friends she fled the UK with were taken on a bus that stopped in the middle of a field.
‘An hour later five cars came and surrounded the bus. We were so scared we couldn’t even talk… afterwards another car came and a man with a mask walked on the bus. He had a small gun on him. He sat across from me.
‘He asked us our real names, how old we were and where we had come from. From those three questions he could figure out that we were the three girls on the news. His face was covered but his face looked like Jihadi John from the videos.
‘The size, the eyes, the accent – he was clearly British. They could not believe in a million years that three teenagers could leave their good, comfortable lives in the UK for Syria without being caught by the government.’
Shamima Begum claimed she met Jihadi John in ISIS’s capital’ city of Raqqa
The notorious executioner, who like Begum was from London, was later vapourised in a drone strike
Today’s episode of the ten-part BBC series also saw Begum claim she had never watched ISIS execution videos before leaving the UK – contradicting her previous comments.
Questioned by broadcaster Josh Baker how she couldn’t have seen footage of ISIS violence, she said: ‘I didn’t know about these atrocities because as a 15-year-old I didn’t watch the news.
‘I got my news on social media where people were saying this is untrue, it’s an exaggeration.’
This was in the face of comments she made in 2019 to the BBC’s Middle East correspondent, Quentin Sommerville, who asked her: ‘One of the reasons you joined IS is because you watched some beheading videos, is that right?’
She replied: ‘Not just the beheading videos, the videos that show families and stuff in the park. The good life that they can provide for you. Not just the fighting videos, but yeah the fighting videos as well I guess.’
This audio was played back on the podcast, before Baker asked her: ‘You’ve said previously that you did watch ISIS propaganda in London… you said you were aware of the fighting and brutality of ISIS before you left’.
‘No,’ she replied.
The episode also saw Begum asked about Sharmeena Begum, a classmate at Bethnal Green Academy in East London who left to join ISIS shortly before her.
The 23-year-old said she was in regular contact with Sharmeena when her friend was already in Syria.
Begum claimed Sharmeena told her claims ISIS had been executing people and carrying out atrocities had been made up by the media.
The ISIS bride, who has been stripped of her British citizenship, said she ‘fell in love’ with the idea of the terror group as a ‘utopia’, and was in ‘complete shock’ when she first saw videos of the death cult’s beheadings after arriving in Syria.
In 2019, Begum told the BBC’s Middle East correspondent, Quentin Sommerville, that she had watched ISIS videos before leaving for Syria
Begum, pictured here wearing leggings and a white t-shirt, has changed her appearance radically since she was first found in the Al-Roj camp in Syria
And, wallowing in self-pity, she blamed her family and ‘racism’ for turning her against Britain.
‘It’s really hard wanting to integrate into society but your family holding you back,’ she said. ‘Because their idea of being British was loose and immoral. I didn’t want to be like that, I just wanted to be free.’
Begum later added: ‘I didn’t feel British or Bengali. I didn’t feel Bengali because I didn’t want to be, and I didn’t feel British because I felt like I wasn’t able to be… you want to be accepted but I didn’t feel like I was because of racism and other things’.
The ten-part BBC series has attracted controversy for giving airtime to Begum, who is accused of sewing bombers into their suicide vests while living in ISIS-controlled territory in the Middle East.
However, producers insist the series is ‘not a platform for Shamima Begum to give her unchallenged story’ but a ‘robust, public interest investigation’.
– I’m Not a Monster: The Shamima Begum Story is available now on BBC Sounds
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