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ISIS bride Shamima Begum has insisted that her "only crime was going to Syria" as she begged for the chance to come back to the UK to face trial.
She fled her home in Bethnal Green, east London, aged 15 to head to the Middle East where she married a jihadi fighter.
Begum, who is now 22, says the idea that she had carried out any atrocities was "completely false".
Speaking to Sky News from her Syrian prison camp, she pleaded with British officials to question her because she says she has not been able to give them her side of the story.
"I'm willing to fight them in a court of law but I'm not being given a chance," she said.
Begum said she doesn’t “hate Britain”, and she was groomed and brainwashed by friends and older men for months before finally joining for ISIS.
Now wearing yoga leggings, a pink sweatshirt, a black baseball cap and a small handbag, Sky News reporter Alistair Bunkall said she bears little resemblance to the girl who caught the world’s attention in her strict ISIS dress when she first fled the UK for Syria.
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She admitted that she had left for the Middle East for the promise of paradise, but instead she found "hell, hell on Earth".
Begum said that she was groomed before making the fateful decision.
She said: "[I was groomed] for weeks and weeks and maybe even months and months. It wasn't just a decision I made very quickly, it was a decision I thought about for a while.
"I didn't hate Britain, I hated my life, really. I felt very constricted, and I felt I couldn't live the life that I wanted in the UK as a British woman.
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"It's hard to think about a future when everyone tells you that you're not going to go back."
The UK government has deemed her a risk to national security, and the Supreme Court has backed that view, which means that unless anything changes, Begum cannot return to UK.
She had her UK citizenship stripped in 2019, making her effectively stateless.
The government claims she has dual Bangladeshi nationality, but the government there has disavowed her, too.
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She said she was still officially married to her Dutch husband, an ISIS fighter and the father of her three dead children, but insisted she no longer had any sympathy for him.
Alistair, who travelled to the Al Roj camp in north-east Syria to speak to Begum, described her as displaying “a childlike shyness”, rarely making eye contact. He said she came across as naive, although not necessarily innocent.
He added: “Shamima Begum is the woman that nobody wants, and she knows it. When she closes her eyes at night she says she is haunted by ‘my children dying, the bombings, the constant running, my friends dying’.
“Begum has already been judged, albeit only in the court of public opinion, and for now, she is going nowhere.”
- Shamima Begum
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