The Jihadi bride, who fled London aged just 15 to join Islamic State in Syria, wants to return to the UK to give birth to her third child.
Hanif Qadir, a reformed extremist who now runs the Active Change Foundation, a de-radicalisation project in London, said Begum deserves the opportunity to transform her life and give birth in safety following her ‘naive and childish mistake.’
Speaking from the Republic of Mali, where he is running reintegration workshop, Mr Qadir said: “Of course she should be allowed to return home, why should she not?
“She is as much a victim in this as anything.
“If you look at why she left to go to Syria and the circumstances surrounding that, I do believe she is not going to be a threat.
“When they left they were still children – they were all 16 or younger – and they were all very young and naive.
“She needs to be given the right to be rehabilitated and I think human rights has a huge role to place in providing protection.”
Begum called on human rights laws to protect Begum, who he described as a ‘vulnerable and naive young girl’ who was indoctrinated.
He said: “Nobody is born radical – there is no doubt she can change and she deserves a chance of rehabilitation.
“She saw so much death and destruction out there and she will have PTSD definitely.
“She will have been given those radical believes and she will have internalised them but there is a huge opportunity here.
“There is so much we can learn from her and if we can find out why she left, it could prevent others from doing the same.”
Using Begum as an example, Mr Qadir believes the British Government can ‘open up doors’ to other girls wanting to escape such regimes by allowing her return.
But he maintained Begum should go through the judiciary process before receiving rehabilitation and said ‘she is probably expecting that.’
He said: “If she is given the opportunity to come back and have this child in safety, that is testament that what she has been told is a false idea.
“The British government can neutralise those extremist beliefs and change hers and her child’s life.
“The only way you are going to cut terror off is by stopping their human resources and we’ve seen that can’t be done by killing them.
“If we deny her of this, we are only going to strengthen and confirm the narrative of the terrorist groups that her life doesn’t matter to us.
“But by giving Shamima a chance, we are removing their human resources and denied the terrorist groups of the opportunity of that narrative.”
Based on his years of research, Mr Qadir said it is likely Begum fled the Bengali community in east London to escape forced marriage and was ‘sold a dream’ of marrying a ‘warrior’ in Syria.
Mr Qadir, who has worked with many girls with similar backgrounds, said: “The reality is the environment Shamima comes from and her cultural background, the Bengali community, has not been open to allow young girls to have a partner of their choice.
“She has been indoctrinated because somebody has given her a false hope.
“When it comes down to marriage, it is not their choice and they often get married to people much, much older than them
“Girls often acknowledged wanting to escape being married to somebody from Bangladesh who was 20 years older than them without having any choice in the matter.
“They think ‘we can go and find a partner of our choice’ and that is an excuse escaping the pressure of being married off but then they find themselves in Syria.”
He is now calling on the British government to use Shamima ‘as an example’ and prevent other girls from following in her footsteps to join extremist groups.
He added: “The reason to join these groups is getting stronger because of the way the war on terror is being handled.
“We are going to have another wave of young men and women wanting to join the jihadis.
“But if we are being the better people and can show her we are human and will give her a chance, that is going to be a nuclear bomb for ISIS.”
By Laura Sharman