Who is Shamima Begum? The British ISIS bride who got stripped of her British citizenship

Shamima Begum, now twenty, went to war-torn Syria, as a fifteen-year-old, to join the Islamic State as an ISIS bride

Shamima Begum, a British citizen of Bangladeshi origin, went to the Syrian war zone, in 2015. She went to Raqqa in northern Syria attracted by the Islamic State, where she married a Dutch convert fighter, had three children with him and stayed as an ISIS bride.

Last February, the 20-year-old was found in the al-Hawl camp in northern Syria and was immediately stripped off her British citizenship. She had appealed against the government's decision over her citizenship, but lost the first stage of it, on February 7.

Shamima Begum loses appeal for her citizenship

Shamima Begum

In February last year, the former British Home Secretary Sajid Javid stripped her UK citizenship. She got to know about the decision in an interview with ITV News, the decision which she described as "hard to swallow", "upsetting, frustrating and unjust". She urged the UK government to let her in the country, for her son Jarrah, who later died of pneumonia, aged less than three weeks.

On Friday she lost her first appeal against her loss to citizenship at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. On the question that the decision would leave her stateless, the commission said that she could instead turn to Bangladesh, where she was "a citizen by descent", BBC reported. Under international law, it's illegal to leave a person stateless.

However, in May last year, Bangladesh's Foreign Minister, Abdul Momen, made it clear that if she enters Bangladesh, she would face the death penalty over terrorism charges. "What is obvious to all" in that Begum was born, raised and radicalised in the UK and was "in no way Bangladesh's problem", the minister had iterated then.

Who is Shamima Begum?

Fed and radicalized with ISIS propaganda, Shamima (aged 15) travelled to Syria, through Turkey, along with her two friends, Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase, in 2015. Ten days after reaching Syria, she married Yago Riedijk, a Dutch convert recruit. They had three children together, a girl and two boys, all of whom have died.

On several occasions, she showed regret for joining ISIS and said that she "doesn't support everything, they stand for". But in an interview with BBC, though apologetic, she tried justifying ISIS terror attacks, especially the Manchester Arena bombing, as a "two-ways thing", as "women in children are being killed in Islamic State" as well.

On executions carried out by the Islamic State, she said to Sky News that she was "okay with it as she became very religious before she left" and felt "it was all Islamically allowed". Of her being a threat to national security, she asserted that she "never did anything dangerous, did not take part in propaganda, didn't encourage people to come".

With the UK taking her citizenship and Bangladesh refusing to let her in, Shamima Begum's future is uncertain. At present, she lives in Roj Camp, in northern Syria.

Join the Discussion