A woman who lost both parents in the Manchester Arena attack has urged Britain not to let Isis bride Shamima Begum return, saying: ‘This country can’t afford more risk.’
Alex Klis, 21, from York, was due to be picked up from the concert in May 2017 with her sister Patricia, 14, by their parents Marcin, 42, and mother Angelika, 49.
But the mother and father were among the 22 innocent people killed in the blast as they waited in the venue’s foyer for their girls to leave the Ariana Grande concert.
Marcin and Angelika Klis took a selfie side by side in Manchester city centre while on their way to Manchester Arena in May 2017, where they died while waiting to pick up their children
Miss Klis spoke out today after Begum, 19, of East London, said Western air strikes against Syria were a ‘fair justification’ for the attack as she hopes to return home.
She told ITV’s This Morning: ‘I think she’s comparing two things that shouldn’t ever be compared. She’s saying that there are fighters in IS that are getting killed.
‘Those people go there knowing what to expect. People who went to the Manchester Arena, they went there to take their kids to a concert.
‘She’s out of order, comparing those two things… She’s made her bed. I think she should remain where she is. I don’t think she’s being honest.
‘The only reason that she wants to come back is because she couldn’t stay where she was. What is the point in coming back if you enjoy it so much there?’
Alex Klis, 21, from York, was on ITV’s This Morning today – and said of Isis bride Shamima Begum’s hopes to return: ‘What is the point in coming back if you enjoy it so much there?’
Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford speak to Miss Klis (right) on ITV’s This Morning today
Miss Klis told how she was evacuated from the venue with her sister, and went to look at different hospitals to see if they could find their parents.
But she received the devastating news that they had died 24 hours later, and went home to wake up her sister and tell her before she found out another way.
She said: ‘I have become my sister’s guardian. I’ve had to grow up overnight… it was very natural. It was autopilot the whole way. We’re used to it now, we just live our life.
‘The whole thing has brought it back up. The emergency fund has helped us hugely. We were in a rented house and that money helped with buying a house.’
Miss Klis added that she was ‘set up for the future’ now thanks to the money, but added of Begum’s potential return to Britain: ‘This country can’t afford more risk.’
Olivia Campbell (left), the daughter of Charlotte Campbell and Paul Hodgson (right), who died in the bombing at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017
Charlotte Campbell, whose daughter Olivia, 15, was among those killed, has also revealed her horror at the thought of Begum being allowed to come home.
She believes Begum poses too great a threat to the British public, adding: ‘I can’t stand the thought of her being allowed back. It’s making me ill. She’s such high risk.’
Manchester bombing survivor Robby Potter, 49, who was blasted in the heart with shrapnel while with his family, has also criticised the suggestion she could return.
He said: ‘How can she even be considered to be allowed back when she has just stated it was fair justification? I can’t even believe it’s even being debated.
‘She shouldn’t be allowed back. It’s outrageous. The authorities would probably have to give her a new identity to protect her – then what about the resources of the security services monitoring her to make sure she is not a risk to the British public?’
Survivor Robby Potter (pictured with his wife Leonora Ogerio), who was blasted in the heart with shrapnel while with his family, has also criticised the suggestion she could return
Kadiza Sultana (left) and Amira Abase (right) travelled with Shamima Begum to Syria in 2015
Begum, who fled to join Isis in 2015 and is now begging to be allowed to return, said the Manchester attack was ‘retaliation’ for ‘women and children’ bombed in Syria.
May snubs America call to take back fanatics
Downing Street has rebuffed Donald Trump’s demand that the UK takes back Islamic State fighters and their jihadi brides.
Britain has at least six fanatics languishing in secret jails in Syria and dozens of wives in refugee camps in the region.
On Sunday, the US president said European nations should ‘step up’ and repatriate more than 800 IS combatants.
If not, he warned America would be forced to release fighters who could make their way back to Europe and plot attacks. But Theresa May rejected the call, insisting prosecutions should take place in the country where the crimes were committed – even if there is no functioning justice system.
A No 10 spokesman said: ‘Foreign fighters should be brought to justice in accordance with due legal process in the most appropriate jurisdiction. Where possible, this should be in the region where crimes were committed.’
But the stance was criticised by Tory MP Andrew Mitchell, a former international development secretary, who said: ‘We cannot just close our eyes and pull up the drawbridge.’
Meanwhile, Home Secretary Sajid Javid revealed more than 100 dual nationals who travelled to join Isis have had their UK citizenship stripped by the Home Office to stop them re-entering the country.
He made the admission in the Commons while answering an urgent question on the case of Shamima Begum, who cannot be banned because she only holds a British passport. Mr Javid said: ‘Whatever role they took in the so-called caliphate, they all supported a terrorist organisation and in doing so they have shown they hate our country.’
Mr Javid also said yesterday the 650-year-old law of treason could be rewritten to make it easier to prosecute returning jihadists. He said the idea of widening the treason law to catch extremists who travel abroad ‘was worth looking at carefully’.
The unrepentant teenager, who gave birth to her third child, a baby boy, in a refugee camp on Sunday, told the BBC: ‘I do feel that is wrong. Innocent people did get killed. It’s one thing to kill a soldier that is fighting you, it’s fine, it’s self-defence.
‘But to kill people like women and children, just like the women and children in Baghuz [Isis’s last stronghold] who are being killed right now unjustly by the bombings – it’s a two-way thing, really, because women and children are being killed in Islamic State right now.
‘It’s kind of retaliation. [Isis’s] justification [for Manchester] was that it was retaliation, so I thought, ‘OK, that is a fair justification.’ ‘
Begum said she was ‘sorry’ to all the families who had lost loved ones in Isis-inspired attacks in the UK and across Europe, adding: ‘That wasn’t fair on them. They weren’t fighting anyone. They weren’t causing any harm.
‘But neither was I and neither were other women who are being killed right now back in Baghuz.’
Isis claimed responsibility for the bombing by Salman Abedi on May 22, 2017, which killed children as young as eight and wounded 139 people, saying it was in response to ‘transgression’ against Muslims.
Begum said before she fled to Syria with fellow Bethnal Green Academy schoolgirls Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase, she watched Isis videos of ‘beheadings’.
She also watched propaganda videos of ‘families and stuff in the park, the good life they [Isis] can provide’ before settling in Raqqa and marrying Yago Riedijk, a convicted terrorist who police believe was part of a cell plotting an atrocity in Europe.
She emerged in a refugee camp in Syria last week and spoke of her desperation to return to the UK to raise her son. Her first two children died of unknown illnesses.
But Begum’s efforts to return to the UK have sparked controversy, with Home Secretary Sajid Javid claiming he will try to block it.
However, she told ITV News last night she does not see why he would see her as ‘a threat’ and that she was open to spending time in prison and going on a deradicalisation course.
Begum has named her son (left) Jerah, in what historians say is homage to an Islamic warlord
She said: ‘I’m a 19-year-old girl with a newborn baby. I don’t have any weapons; I don’t want to hurt anyone even if I did have weapons.
A picture of Begum issued by Scotland Yard
‘He [Javid] has no proof I’m a threat other than I was in Isis, but that’s it. I’m not going to go back and provoke people to go to Isis – if anything, I’m going to encourage them not to go because it’s not all as it seems in their videos.’
The teenager denied being an Isis ‘poster girl’ but admitted her disappearance with friends in 2015, which made headlines around the world, had incited many others to join the hateful group.
She said: ‘The poster girl thing was not my choice. Me just going there and being a housewife and them taking care of me, it’s not really in any way helping. I’m not paying for their bullets.’ But she added: ‘I just want forgiveness really, from the UK.
A victim of the Manchester Arena attack following the atrocity at a concert in May 2017
The scene outside Manchester Arena in May 2017 after the deadly explosion took place
‘Everything I’ve been through, I didn’t expect I would go through that. Losing my children the way I lost them, I don’t want to lose this baby as well and this is really not a place to raise children, this camp.’
Eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos was the youngest victim of the Manchester bombing
Tasnime Akunjee, solicitor for the families of the Bethnal Green girls, has said he would like an assessment on Begum’s mental health and blamed her radicalisation on Tower Hamlets Council, Bethnal Green Academy and the Metropolitan Police.
He said: ‘It is almost inconceivable that no agency has been investigated let alone held to account for the litany of failures that resulted in the Bethnal Green schoolgirls managing to travel to Isis.’
He added that her lack of emotion in press interviews was comparable to a shell-shocked First World War soldier, telling ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘They are both [in] warzones.’
Mr Akunjee added that any attempt to deny Begum ‘due process’ to return would mean she was being treated worse than Nazi war criminals after the Second World War.
He told The Times: ‘The Nazis had the Nuremberg trials. They were given due process. This girl was a victim when she went out there at 15 years old.’
Jihadi bride Shamima Begum will be quizzed by police and could be arrested if she returns to the UK with her newborn baby, says Britain’s top police officer
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said Begum could expect to be ‘spoken to’ if she comes back to Britain
Counter-terrorism police officers will ‘deal with whatever they are confronted with’ if Islamic State schoolgirl Shamima Begum returns to the UK.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said the 19-year-old could expect to be ‘spoken to’ if she comes back to Britain.
She fled her east London home in 2015 to travel to Syria to support IS, but now wishes to return home for the sake of her third child, who was born at the weekend. Her two older children have died.
Today, Ms Dick said: ‘If she does, under whatever circumstances, arrive at our borders, somebody in her type of circumstances could expect, of course, to be spoken to and, if there is the appropriate necessity, to be potentially arrested and certainly investigated.
‘If that results in sufficient evidence for a prosecution then it will result in sufficient evidence for a prosecution. The officers will deal with whatever they are confronted with.’
There are currently plans to change the law to make travelling to certain terror hotspots a criminal offence, but this would not apply retrospectively to Ms Begum.
Around 425 suspected jihadi fighters are thought to have returned to the UK from Syria so far.
Who were the five Bethnal Green girls who went to join ISIS?
Sharmeena Begum – Flew to Turkey from London Heathrow in December 2014. No relation to Shamima.
Unnamed 15-year-old – tried to go to Turkey on the same 2014 flight but was stopped before take-off.
Shamima Begum – One of the three who flew from London Gatwick to Turkey in February 2015 and then went on to Syria. Has pleaded to be allowed to return to the UK with newborn son.
Amira Abase – Flew out in 2015 with Shamima who said in yesterday’s interview she did not know whether Ms Abase was still alive.
Kadiza Sultana – Also flew out in 2015. Believed to have been killed in an airstrike in 2016.
Ms Dick said: ‘This case and other cases that are talked about in the same sentences just really underline how awful the circumstances are and have been in Syria and just how dangerous it has been, and would continue to be, for anybody from this country to think of travelling there – dangerous physically and dangerous legally.
‘If there is insufficient evidence for a prosecution it is our job to look at the threat they pose if they are returning from Syria and we do that with every single person who comes back from Syria and then manage the risk with colleagues in the (security and intelligence) agencies.’
In 2015, when Ms Begum had just left the UK, then chief of counter-terror policing Sir Mark Rowley suggested that she might be treated as a victim of grooming.
But today, Ms Dick said: ‘I’ve read very carefully what the Assistant Commissioner and the Commissioner said, it was very carefully caveated on the basis of what was known then. We’re a long way down the road since then.’
Talking generally about the number of returnees from Syria, she said that some who cannot be prosecuted may ‘still require a considerable amount of monitoring’.
‘That puts a lot of pressure on resources. But it’s very hard to know the scale of this right now – how many people will come back, and what threat they may pose.’