Shamima Begum, the Bethnal Green teenager who travelled to Syria to join the Islamic State, has restated her desire to return to Britain – claiming she would “love” to help rehabilitate extremists.
Begum, now 21, said she was “just a dumb kid” and not a terrorist when she left London to join IS. “I don’t think I was a terrorist. I think I was jut a dumb kid who made one mistake,” she told filmmakers at the al-Roj prison camp in Syria, where she remains after being stripped of her British citizenship.
“I personally don’t think that I need to be rehabilitated, but I would want to help other people be rehabilitated. I would love to help.”
Sporting jeans, a baseball cap and a face mask, Begum said that she now wears western clothes instead of a hijab because it makes her “happy”. She added: “And anything in this camp that makes me happy is like a lifesaver.”
Elsewhere in the interview, conducted by a British documentary-maker for a film called Danger Zone, Begum said she liked the music of rapper Kanye West, had been following news of his divorce from Kim Kardashian, and watched re-runs of Friends in the camp.
Asked what her message to those in the UK who do not want her to return would be, she said: “Can I come home please, pretty please?”
Earlier this year the Supreme Court ruled that Begum cannot return to the UK to pursue an appeal against the removal of her British citizenship.
Her citizenship was revoked on national security grounds shortly after she was found, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019.
In July last year, the Court of Appeal ruled that “the only way in which she can have a fair and effective appeal is to be permitted to come into the United Kingdom to pursue her appeal”.
The Home Office challenged that decision at the Supreme Court in November, arguing that allowing her to return to the UK “would create significant national security risks” and expose the public to “an increased risk of terrorism”.
But, in February, the UK’s highest court ruled that Begum should not be granted leave to enter the UK to pursue her appeal against the deprivation of her British citizenship.
Announcing the decision, Lord Reed said: “The Supreme Court unanimously allows all of the Home Secretary’s appeals and dismisses Ms Begum’s cross-appeal.”
The president of the Supreme Court said: “The right to a fair hearing does not trump all other considerations, such as the safety of the public.
“If a vital public interest makes it impossible for a case to be fairly heard then the courts cannot ordinarily hear it.
“The appropriate response to the problem in the present case is for the deprivation hearing to be stayed – or postponed – until Ms Begum is in a position to play an effective part in it without the safety of the public being compromised.
“That is not a perfect solution, as it is not known how long it may be before that is possible. But there is no perfect solution to a dilemma of the present kind.”
In the court’s written ruling, Lord Reed said: “It is, of course, true that a deprivation decision may have serious consequences for the person in question: although she cannot be rendered stateless, the loss of her British citizenship may nevertheless have a profound effect upon her life, especially where her alternative nationality is one with which she has little real connection.
“But the setting aside of the decision may also have serious consequences for the public interest.”
In a statement after the ruling, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “The Supreme Court has unanimously found in favour of the Government’s position and reaffirmed the Home Secretary’s authority to make vital national security decisions.
“The Government will always take the strongest possible action to protect our national security and our priority remains maintaining the safety and security of our citizens.”