Who is ‘ISIS bride’ Shamima Begum? Where is she now? Manchester bombing link; other things to know
Shamima Begum, who made headlines as the "ISIS bride" after she left London at age 15 to go to Syria, on Wednesday (February 15) lost the challenge against the United Kingdom government's decision of removal of her citizenship. Eight years ago, when the British-born schoolgirl ran away with two friends to join the terror group, she expected never to return, it was revealed during her interview with BBC last month. She was one of the rare persons whose story was discussed internationally even as thousands of men and women were detained in Syria as they lived the same fate after the defeat of the IS caliphate in 2019.
Where is Shamima Begum now?
She married an ISIS fighter after running away from London. She had three children but all of them died in infancy. With the latest decision by The Special Immigration Appeals Commission that she can't return to the United Kingdom, she will continue to be in a refugee camp in Syria in what now appears to be "exile for life". Her lawyers, however, hope to continue the legal fight.
What happened to Shamima Begum's friends?
Shamima Begum left in 2015 with two of her friends - 16-year-old Kadiza Sultana and 15-year-old Amira Abase. All three teenagers married ISIS fighters. According to a report by the Evening Standard, Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase were in touch with their families after they left the UK. While Sultana is reported to have been killed in a Russian strike in 2016, Amira Abase's family hopes she is still alive.
Link to Manchester bombing
Shamima Begum was widely criticised for saying that the Manchester Arena attack in May 2017, which killed 22 people when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive at the end of a pop concert, was "justified". As she began her fight to return to the UK, she sought "forgiveness" for her remarks.
Shamima Begum on media coverage
In an interview with the BBC last month, the 23-year-old spoke about the media coverage and her decision to join the group.
"But what was there to obsess over, we went to ISIS that was it, it was over, it was over and done with, what more is there to say? Like, they just wanted to continue the story because it was a story, it was the big story," she said during the podcast "The Shamima Begum Story".
UK government's stance
The UK government on Wednesday welcomed the ruling by The Special Immigration Appeals Commission. In 2019, Sajid Javid had stripped Shamima Begum of her citizenship on national security grounds. Her lawyers later claimed she was a victim of trafficking, and did not leave her home willingly.
When former US president Donald Trump in 2019 had suggested that the captured ISIS fighters should be taken by countries, the government had 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 the crimes had been committed. We continue to work closely with our international partners on this. The government will do all it can to ensure the safety and security of the UK.”