Monday, July 15

British ISIS bride Shamima Begum: I am afraid I could die here



British ISIS bride Shamima Begum has told how she is terrified she is going to die while she remains in a refugee camp on the war-torn border between Turkey and Syria.

The now 20-year-old is living in the al-Roj camp nine miles from the border in Turkey’s ‘safe zone’ which they began attacking with artillery earlier this month.

Begum, who is from Bethnal Green in east London, said she had a bag packed at all times and was ready to move fast if things change “like the earlier days in time of Isis”.

The teen is reported to no longer be wearing the black hijab she was pictured in when news of her still being alive emerged in the press but now wears an open-faced maroon cloak, nose stud and trainers.

“I am scared, really scared,” she told The Times. “I am afraid I could die here. The camp is very tense. We don’t know what is going on. When the Turkish offensive began many of the women here waited to take advantage of it to hurt those who had left Isis.”

Under the agreement reached between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday, Kurdish YPG forces must withdraw from the buffer zone where the northern Syrian camp home to 10,000 ISIS fighters and their families is located.

Authorities running the camp say there have already been escape attempts by the hardcore Islamic State members who are exploiting the instability, attacking guards and women they deem disloyal to the jihadists.

Begum says she is terrified what might happen to her as she doesn’t know who could be running the camp before long, be it the Syrian regime, Russian soldiers or the Turkish troops.

Speaking to the paper on the the second day of a preliminary hearing before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, Ms Begum said: “We saw the offensive on TV. It caused complete shock throughout the whole camp as all the possibilities went through our minds.

“There is the fear that if the Kurds leave there could be chaos here, anarchy, and that our lives would be at risk from dangerous people in this camp. There are some psychotic women in here.”

The four day preliminary hearing with Mrs Justice Elisabeth Laing is expected to deal with, among other things, whether depriving Ms Begum of her British citizenship rendered her stateless and was therefore unlawful.

The home secretary Sajid Javid revoked her citizenship on February 19 when she was discovered in al-Hawl and triggered a wave of public anger towards her.

She acknowledged that the outcome of this preliminary hearing into her appeal would probably not bring an immediate change to her status.

She said: “My case is no different to that of the other British women here, many of whom have not had their citizenship removed.

“Their cases have not moved forward, though they still have British citizenship, so I can’t see mine changing quickly.”

She added: “I feel the only way I could have a normal life is to go back to the UK, it’s the only real option I have.”

Begum was aged 15 when she left her home and family to go to Syria and join the jihadist movement. She was one of three schoolgirls, along with Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase who were radicalised.