Shamima Begum was 15 when she ran away with two other schoolgirls to Syria to marry a Dutch jihadi in 2015. She is accused of trying to recruit others to join before she left – and doing evil jobs for ISIS
On claims she sewed jihadis into suicide vests
‘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.’
On asking for forgiveness
‘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.’
Message for the PM
‘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.’
On why she went to Syria
Begum said she came to Syria expecting simply to get married, have children and ‘live a pure, Islamic life’.
‘The reason I came to Syria was not for violent reasons.’ She added: ‘At the time I did not know it (so-called Islamic State) was a death cult, I thought it was an Islamic community I was joining. I was being fed a lot of information on the internet by people.’
On justifying the Manchester Arena bombing
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.’
‘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 it was ‘not justifiable to kill innocent people in the name of religion’.
On whether she is a criminal or a terrorist
She said: ‘Honestly, the only crime I think I committed was being dumb enough to come to Isis, and even that can be refuted because I was 15 when I came, and you can’t, you know, judge a 15-year-old for making a mistake which he or she very quickly regretted making.
‘If you really think I did do this, why don’t you bring me back and put me on trial, and hear my side of the story.
‘If you if you honestly believe that, don’t you think I just have to go to jail for it.
‘The fact that you think I should rather rot here, instead of face trial… the democracy that you live in, says that everyone deserves a fair trial.’
On her new western look
Begum said she the decision to stop wearing the hijab was one she took for herself and denied that the move was a publicity stunt.
She said: ‘I have not been wearing hijab for maybe more than a year now. I took it off for myself, because I felt very constricted in the hijab, I felt like I was not myself.
‘And I feel like it makes me happy, to not wear the hijab. I’m not doing for anyone but myself.
‘I’ve had many opportunities to let people take pictures of me without my hijab on, but I did not.’
On the decision to revoke her citizenship
When asked what she would tell Sajid Javid, who was Home Secretary when Begum’s British citizenship was revoked, Begum said: ‘I understand why he took my citizenship away, that it’s his job to think about the interest of the UK before anything else.
‘What he saw on the media was not the true me. If he were to meet me himself, I’m pretty sure he would change his mind about my citizenship.’
Begum said she was groomed and taken advantage of, believing she would be entering an ‘Islamic paradise’.
She said: ‘People that I was speaking to online they just, they created this image for me over paradise, an Islamic paradise.
‘They pressured me very hard into coming. They made me feel bad for wanting to stay in the UK, for wanting to stay with my family who weren’t even practising at the time. And they took advantage of me because they knew that I was young.’
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