Up to 150 British jihadis and their brides will be celebrating today after Britain’s most senior judges ruled that Shamima Begum must be allowed to return to the UK to fight the decision to revoke her British citizenship for joining the murderous Islamic State regime.
Begum – one of three east London schoolgirls who travelled to Syria to join ISIS when she was 15 – was stripped of her UK passport after she was found, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February last year.
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen was left furious by today’s ruling saying it risked a flood of jihadis returning He told MailOnline: ‘It opens the door for all her fellow jihadi brides to return to Britain – and potentially their terrorist partners too. Most Brits will rightly think that when you swear allegiance to another country that declares war on Britain, that you have given up all the rights and protections and privileges of your British citizenship. After today’s ruling it appears you have not’.
These include Tooba Gondal, a former AK-47-wielding ISIS bride who groomed others online and bragged online about her ‘real freedom’ in Syria before the caliphate collapsed. She is also in the Al Hol camp with Begum and has asked to come back to the UK because of ‘dire conditions’ there.
British jihadi fighters believed to be alive including former bouncy castle salesman turned alleged executioner Siddhartha Dhar, 36, ‘Jihadi Jack’ Letts, ISIS grave digger Shahan Choudhury, fast food addict ‘Hungry’ Hamza Parvez and Cardiff ice cream salesman Aseel Muthana may also try to seize on Begum’s legal victory.
UK civil rights groups including Liberty helped launch her legal battle in Britain and today the Court of Appeal found she could not have an ‘effective’ appeal against the decision by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) in February while she is out of the country – and said letting her back into the UK ‘outweighed national security concerns’.
The three judges, led by Lord Justice Flaux, said: ‘The Court concludes that Ms Begum’s appeal to the Court of Appeal should be allowed, so that she can have leave to enter the UK in order for there to be a fair and effective appeal before SIAC’.
Mother-of-three Begum, 20, whose children with Dutch jihadi husband Yago Riedijk all died, is still in the Al Hol camp in northern Syria but could be heading back to Britain within weeks after today’s landmark ruling.
Her first two children one-year-old girl and a three-month-old boy, died in the caliphate after becoming sick and malnourished, while her third child Jarrah died shortly after he was born in the camp where his mother still lives.
Appeal: Begum challenged the decision made by then Home Secretary Sajid Javid saying she now feared for her life. Her third child Jarrah, pictured in her arms, died at three weeks old
Tooba Gonda (left), a former AK-47-wielding ISIS bride who groomed others online and bragged online about her ‘real freedom’ in Syria before caliphate collapsed. Jihadi bride Amira Abase (right) from Bethnal Green is rumoured to have been killed in an air strike but there are rumours that she is alive
Former bouncy castle salesman Siddhartha Dhar, 36, known as jihadi Sid, could be among the male jihadis looking to get back to Britain following today’s ruling
Jihadi bride Shamima Begum: What happens next and how quickly can she return to the UK?
What happens next?
The Home Office is rushing to appeal today’s ruling to prevent Shamima Begum returning to Britain.
The Government will file papers with the Supreme Court within days.
Judges will look at their arguments and then decide by the end of July whether they will grant a full hearing on the issue.
If they reject the appeal either at the first stage or after a full hearing than Begum would be likely to get back into the UK within hours.
The Special Immigration Appeals Commission, a semi-secret court which hears national security case, ruled that Ms Begum has not been rendered stateless by the UK because she can ask Bangladesh for citizenship.
The tribunal also ruled it was fair to hear her case while she is still in Syrian camp.
They will now turn to consider again whether ministers had legitimate national security grounds to bar Ms Begum from coming back to the UK – probably with her in court.
What happens if she does return to Britain?
She would be arrested. Mr Wallace has said everyone who returned from taking part in the conflict in Syria and Iraq must be investigated by police. Scotland Yard would launch an investigation to determine if she committed any crimes, and if she poses a threat to national security.
Would she be prosecuted?
After Begum and her friends travelled to Syria, the head of counter-terrorism at the time, Met Police assistant commissioner Mark Rowley, said: ‘They have no reason to fear, if nothing else comes to light, that we will be treating them as terrorists.’ Tasnime Akunjee, the solicitor for the families of the three girls, said: ‘Effectively, this is immunity.’ The Director of Public Prosecutions, Max Hill QC, said in 2017 that it was right that those who travelled to Syria out of naivety at a young age and who returned in a state of ‘utter disillusionment’ should be diverted away from the criminal courts.
What offences could Begum be charged with?
Ministers are introducing terror laws to target IS fighters who cannot be prosecuted for other crimes because of a lack of proof. The Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill would make it an offence punishable by up to ten years in jail for anyone to enter a ‘designated area’ abroad unless they can provide a ‘reasonable excuse’. But the proposed legislation could not be applied retrospectively to Begum. The sentence for being a member of IS, or supporting the group, is up to ten years in jail. Other offences that could be considered include disseminating terrorist materials, terrorist fundraising and terrorist training. Any involvement in killings could lead to a murder charge.
How easy would it be to bring a prosecution in Britain?
Even if Begum assisted in atrocities or committed other crimes such as encouraging others to go to Syria, it would be difficult to prove. Jihadis returning to their home countries have been prosecuted on the basis of fingerprints recovered by American troops from bomb parts on the battlefield, but it is unlikely that evidence would have been gathered on the activities of a 15-year-old jihadi bride.
Tory MP Andrew Bridgen was left furious by today’s ruling saying it risked a flood of jihadis returning
He told MailOnline: ‘It opens the door for all her fellow jihadi brides to return to Britain – and potentially their terrorist partners too. Most Brits will rightly think that when you swear allegiance to another country that declares war on Britain, that you have given up all the rights and protections and privileges of your British citizenship. After today’s ruling it appears you have not’.
The Home Office says it will appeal the Begum ruling to the Supreme Court in attempt to stop her entering the UK. But if Priti Patel’s department loses it faces the embarrassing prospect of an extremist they claim poses a risk to the country’s safety being allowed back to the UK – and opens the door to other jihadi brides and their extremist partners flooding back to Britain.
It said in a statement: ‘This is a very disappointing decision by the Court. We will now apply for permission to appeal this judgment, and to stay its effects pending any onward appeal. The Government’s top priority remains maintaining our national security and keeping the public safe’.
The Court of Appeal has acknowledged that letting her back into the country raises ‘national security concerns’ but said ‘the only way in which she can have a fair and effective appeal before SIAC is for Ms Begum to be permitted to come into the UK to pursue that appeal’. The judgment added: ‘Fairness and justice must, on the facts of this case, outweigh the national security concerns, so that the LTE (leave to enter the UK) appeals should be allowed’.
If Begum returns to Britain for the citizenship case she will either win and be handed back her British passport, or lose and face deportation with the process expected to run into 2021.
Daniel Furner of Birnberg Peirce Solicitors, representing Begum, said in a statement after the decision: ‘The Court’s judgment today is an important reminder that fairness and the rule of law remain cornerstones of the British legal system, and that they set the legal limits within which the Home Secretary may act.
‘Justice cannot be defeated, or indefinitely delayed, because a case is difficult or because national security is engaged. Fundamental rights are not extinguished because a person is abroad, or because the allegations against them are serious.
‘As important as the re‐iteration of those centuries’ old principles was the Court’s unqualified rejection of the Home Secretary’s argument that the impediments to Ms Begum’s participation in her appeal were of her own making. As the Court said, approaching the case on that basis risks putting the cart before the horse.
Ms Begum has never had a fair opportunity to give her side of the story. The Court itself noted the ‘obvious’ difference between interviews given to journalists, and instructions provided to a solicitor in court proceedings.
Ms Begum is not afraid of facing British justice, she welcomes it. But the stripping of her citizenship without a chance to clear her name is not justice, it is the opposite.’
Civil liberties groups have hailed today’s decision.
Mohammed Shafiq, CEO of the Ramadhan Foundation, said: ‘The decision of the Court of Appeal to allow Shamima Begum to return to the UK is the right decision and British citizens should welcome it.
‘This is a great victory for all those that believe in a equal society and oppose discrimination in applying citizenship rules. I hope she returns to the UK and is held to account for her alleged crimes like any other British citizen’.
Maya Foa, director of not-for-profit organisation Reprieve, which is calling for all Britons held in camps in north-east Syria to be repatriated to the UK, said after the Shamima Begum ruling: ‘It was always unsafe and unjust to make Brits in Syria someone else’s problem.
‘The Government must urgently revisit its policy and repatriate the tiny number of remaining British families, to face British justice wherever there are charges to answer’.
Jihadi bride Shamima Begum, 20, is desperate to return to Britain five years after she voluntarily left to join ISIS in Syria – her British citizenship was revoked when she was found in a refugee camp after the caliphate fell last year
The British judges who ordered her return to the UK
Lord Justice Flaux
Chair of bench in today’s case was appointed Lord Justice of Appeal in December 2016.
A year later he was among three senior judges have made an extraordinary plea after revealing that immigration, asylum and deportation appeals are suffering unacceptable delays.
Earlier this year he was criticised after he refused a case brought by the parents of Harry Dunn to reveal documents relating to the ‘secret immunity’ deal it agreed with Anne Sacoolas after she fled the country following the teenager’s death.
Lady Justice King
One of Britain’s top family judges, in May she ruled that children in care can be vaccinated against their parents’ wishes without courts having to intervene.
She has also ruled in some of Britain’s biggest divorce cases.
Lord Justice Singh
He is one of Britain’s top judges on national security matters – and Britain’s first Sikh High Court judge.
In December last year her ruled that MI5 moles are authorised to potentially commit murder, kidnap, torture or carry out other serious and violent crimes otherwise it would be ‘impossible’ for them to maintain their cover.
In 2019 he ruled against civil rights groups and said the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) – dubbed the ‘Snoopers’ Charter’ by critics – which allow intelligence agencies to obtain and store communications data, and take remote control of electronic devices through ‘bulk hacking’, was not unlawful.
Human rights organisation Liberty, which intervened in Ms Begum’s appeal, welcomed the ruling.
Liberty lawyer Katie Lines said: “The right to a fair trial is not something the Government can take away on a whim. It is a fundamental part of our justice system and equal access to justice must apply to everyone.
“Banishing someone is the act of a Government shirking its responsibilities and it is critical that cruel and irresponsible Government decisions can be properly challenged and overturned.”
Government sources, who described the ruling as a ‘bitter blow’ to UK national security, were last night said to be ‘pouring over’ the details of the secret judgment and its impact on other jihadi brides whose hope of returning to the UK have been raised significantly.
Now 20, the Londoner left the UK in February 2015 and lived under ISIS rule for more than three years where she married a Dutch jihadi.
Their three children all died – the final baby perished in the camp where she was found after the caliphate fell – and she claims losing her British citizenship left her at risk of torture and ‘real risk of death’.
Then home secretary Sajid Javid revoked her British citizenship on national security grounds later that month.
Ms Begum took legal action against the Home Office, claiming the decision was unlawful because it rendered her stateless and exposed her to a real risk of death or inhuman and degrading treatment.
In February, SIAC – a specialist tribunal which hears challenges to decisions to remove someone’s British citizenship on national security grounds – ruled the decision was lawful as Ms Begum was ‘a citizen of Bangladesh by descent’ at the time of the decision.
The UK government successfully argued that under Bangladeshi law, Ms Begum, whose parents are from the country, is a citizen of Bangladesh by descent so cannot be made stateless by losing her British citizenship.
The tribunal also found that she ‘cannot play any meaningful part in her appeal and that, to that extent, the appeal will not be fair and effective’, but ruled that ‘it does not follow that her appeal succeeds’.
But on Thursday, 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’.
Lord Justice Flaux – sitting with Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Singh – said: ‘Fairness and justice must, on the facts of this case, outweigh the national security concerns, so that the leave to enter appeals should be allowed.’
The judge found that ‘the national security concerns about her could be addressed and managed if she returns to the United Kingdom’.
In its ruling, the court said: ‘If the Security Service and the Director of Public Prosecutions consider that the evidence and public interest tests for a prosecution for terrorist offences are met, she could be arrested and charged upon her arrival in the United Kingdom and remanded in custody pending trial.’
Lord Justice Flaux also said: ‘With due respect to SIAC, it is unthinkable that, having concluded that Ms Begum could not take any meaningful part in her appeal so that it could not be fair and effective, she should have to continue with her appeal nonetheless.’
He added: ‘It is difficult to conceive of any case where a court or tribunal has said we cannot hold a fair trial, but we are going to go on anyway.’
Begum was one of three schoolgirls (pictured) to leave Bethnal Green in east London to join the terror group ISIS in Syria in 2015, when she was aged 15. Pictured with friends Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana, centre and left, who were both believed to have died in drone attacks
What happened to Begum’s two school friends who ran off to Syria with her?
The British schoolgirl who travelled to Syria to join Islamic State with two teenage friends is feared to have been killed in an air strike.
The mother of Amira Abase, who was just 15 when she fled her London home to join IS in 2015, has told friends that she understands her daughter died almost a year ago.
As well as being told by informed sources that her daughter is believed to have been killed, Fetia Hussen lost the mobile phone app communication she had with Amira last summer.
Friends of Fetia Hussen say she believes her daughter, who married Abdullah Elmir, an 18-year-old Australian jihadi, has died, but clings to the faint hope that she is wrong. Both Fetia Hussen and Amira’s father, Abase Hussen, declined to comment.
Some have claimed she may have faked her death to escape Syria.
Kadiza Sultana, 17, is thought to have died in 2016 after her home in the terror state’s stronghold city of Raqqa was hit by a bomb believed to have been dropped by a Russian plane.
The teenager had quickly become disillusioned with Isis and told her family last summer that she wanted to return home.
ITV News revealed that Kadiza, who was one of three Bethnal Green schoolgirls who left their homes to join so-called Islamic State, is dead.
Her sister Halima Khanom said: ‘We were expecting this, in a way. But at least we know she is in a better place.’
Ms Begum’s challenge to the Home Office’s decision to refuse to allow her to enter the UK to effectively pursue her appeal was also rejected.
A Home Office spokesman said: ‘This is a very disappointing decision by the court.
‘We will now apply for permission to appeal this judgment, and to stay its effects pending any onward appeal.
‘The Government’s top priority remains maintaining our national security and keeping the public safe.’
In June, Ms Begum’s barrister Tom Hickman QC told the Court of Appeal that removing his client’s British citizenship took away ‘the real possibility that she could return to the UK’.
He said the decision had the result of ‘exposing her to … the real risk of removal to Bangladesh or Iraq’, where Ms Begum faced ‘extra-judicial killing at the hands of the police’ or ‘a wholly unfair and predetermined ‘trial’ and an immediate sentence of death’.
On Thursday morning, Lord Justice Flaux, Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Singh are due to give a ruling on her appeal, which will be delivered remotely.
At the hearing last month, Mr Hickman argued that Ms Begum’s appeal against the deprivation of her citizenship should be allowed because it ‘cannot be pursued in a manner that satisfies even minimum requirements of fair procedure’.
He also said Mr Javid had been informed that Ms Begum could not have a fair or effective appeal when he took the decision to revoke her citizenship.
Mr Hickman pointed out that Ms Begum, who remains in the al-Roj camp in Syria, was only 15 when she left the UK, saying: ‘She had not even taken her GCSE exams.’
Sir James Eadie QC, representing the Home Office, said: ‘The fact that the appellant could not fully engage with the statutory appeal procedure was a result of her decision to leave the UK, travel to Syria against Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice and align with ISIL.
‘This led to her being held in conditions akin to detention in a foreign state at the hands of a third party, the Syrian Defence Force.
‘It was not the result of any action by the secretary of state and the deprivation decision did not have any causative impact on the appellant in this respect.’
Ms Begum was one of three schoolgirls from Bethnal Green Academy who left their homes and families to join IS, shortly after Sharmeena Begum – who is no relation – travelled to Syria in December 2014.
Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase, then 16 and 15 respectively, and Ms Begum boarded a flight from Gatwick Airport to Istanbul, Turkey, on February 17 2015, before making their way to Raqqa in Syria.
Ms Begum claims she married Dutch convert Yago Riedijk 10 days after arriving in IS territory, with all three of her school friends also reportedly marrying foreign IS fighters.
She told The Times last February that she left Raqqa in January 2017 with her husband but her children, a one-year-old girl and a three-month-old boy, had both since died.
Her third child died shortly after he was born.
Timeline: How Shamima Begum’s dream of becoming a jihadi bride saw her stripped of her British citizenship for joining ISIS
Escaping to Syria: Kadiza Sultana,16, Shamima Begum, then 15, and 15-year-old Amira Abase before they joined IS in Syria. Begum’s friends are believed to be dead
Here is a timeline of events following the three girls’ disappearance leading up to Shamima Begum’s legal action.
– February 17 – Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum leave their east London homes at 8am to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, from Gatwick Airport. Begum and Abase are reported missing by their families later the same day.
– February 18 – Sultana is reported missing to the police.
– February 20 – The Metropolitan Police launch a public appeal for information on the missing girls who are feared to have gone on to Syria. The Met expresses concerns that the missing girls may have fled to join ISIS.
– February 21 – Four days after the girls went missing, police believe they may still be in Turkey.
– February 22 – Abase’s father Abase Hussen says his daughter told him she was going to a wedding on the day she disappeared.
– March 10 – It emerges that the girls funded their trip by stealing jewellery.
– August 2016 – Sultana, then 17, is reported to have been killed in Raqqa in May when a suspected Russian air strike obliterates her house.
– February 13 – Begum, then 19, tells Anthony Loyd of The Times that she wants to return to the UK to give birth to her third child.
Speaking from the al-Hawl refugee camp in northern Syria, Begum tells the paper: ‘I’m not the same silly little 15-year-old schoolgirl who ran away from Bethnal Green four years ago. And I don’t regret coming here.’
– February 15 – Home Secretary Sajid Javid says he ‘will not hesitate’ to prevent the return of Britons who travelled to join IS.
– February 17 – Begum gives birth to her third child – a baby boy, Jarrah – in al-Hawl. Her two other children, a daughter called Sarayah and a son called Jerah, have both previously died.
– February 19 – The Home Office sends Begum’s family a letter stating that it intended to revoke her British citizenship.
– February 20 – Begum, having been shown a copy of the Home Office’s letter by ITV News, describes the decision as ‘unjust’.
– February 22 – Begum’s family write to Mr Javid asking for his help to bring her newborn son to Britain. Shamima’s sister Renu Begum, writing on behalf of the family, said the baby boy was a ‘true innocent’ who should not ‘lose the privilege of being raised in the safety of this country’.
– Late February – Begum is moved to the al-Roj camp in north-eastern Syria, reportedly because of threats to her life made at al-Hawl following the publication of her newspaper interviews.
– March 7 – Jarrah dies around three weeks after he was born.
– March 19 – Begum’s lawyers file a legal action challenging the decision to revoke her citizenship.
– April 1 – In a further interview with The Times, Begum says she was ‘brainwashed’ and that she wanted to ‘go back to the UK for a second chance to start my life over again’.
– May 4 – Bangladesh’s foreign minister Abdul Momen says Begum could face the death penalty for involvement in terrorism if she goes to the country, adding that Bangladesh had ‘nothing to do’ with her.
– September 29 – Home Secretary Priti Patel says there is ‘no way’ she will let Begum return to the UK, adding: ‘We cannot have people who would do us harm allowed to enter our country – and that includes this woman.’
– October 22-25 – Begum’s appeal against the revocation of her British citizenship begins in London. Her barrister Tom Hickman QC submits the decision has unlawfully rendered her stateless, and exposed her to a ‘real risk’ of torture or death.
– February 7 – SIAC rules on Begum’s legal challenge
– July 16 – Court of Appeal rules on the case and finds in Begum’s favour
From Gatwick to Islamic State’s last stand: Shamima Begum’s journey across war-torn Syria that saw a schoolgirl from Bethnal Green transformed into a callous ISIS bride who looks set to return to Britain
It is just over five years since Shamima Begum, now 20, and two classmates ran away to become ‘jihadi brides’ aged 15.
When Begum left to join Islamic State with friends from Bethnal Green Academy – 15-year-old Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana, 16 – they plotted their departure with cynical precision.
They stole jewellery from their families and sold it to fund their secret half-term flight to Turkey in February 2015.
They lied to their devout Muslim families about why they had to go out that weekday morning. One girl said she was going to work at school, another that she had a wedding to go to.
Shamima Begum pictured with a Union Flag cushion and for the first time without her usual black burqa in February, which has been banned in the camp as part of attempts at de-radicalising the women and children
Kadiza Sultana, then 16, Amira Abase, then 15 and Shamima Begum, then 15, (left to right) in images released by police in 2015 after they ran off to Syria. Only Begum is believed to have survived
After arriving in Istanbul, the girls took a bus to the Syrian border, where a people-smuggler guided them into IS territory. They were taken to a ‘house for women’ and each was married off to foreign fighters within three weeks.
Pictured: Begum at Gatwick Airport heading for Turkey in 2015 where she crossed into Syria
In camera-phone footage, which has emerged from IS, the Bethnal Green trio are shown trudging through a snowy landscape to load their bags into a car.
They slipped into IS territory and disappeared – until Begum dramatically reappeared, having been found by The Times, registered as number 28,850 among 39,000 other refugees at the Syrian Al-Hawl holding camp near the last desperate redoubt of the remaining few hundred IS fighters.
She may sound sorry for herself and her unborn baby now. But the truth is that Begum and her fellow jihadi brides were well on the road to radicalisation before they left British soil.
Abase had gone to radical Islamic protests in London with her father, and Begum had been in touch with a female IS recruiter online before she left the UK.
All three had attended meetings at a hardline Islamic women’s group which preached the virtues of IS and was an offshoot of the local mosque.
Friends at Bethnal Green Academy have told of how the three girls changed as they became devotees of IS.
The three formed a clique. They began wearing the hijab to school and talking about the fighting in Syria. They also started to badmouth their non-Muslim classmates, calling them ‘slags’ and ‘kaffirs’, an Arabic term of abuse for an infidel or non-believer.
The trio also sent their classmates a computer video link claiming that Israelis were deliberately burning Palestinian children in the Gaza Strip.
Begum was using her Twitter account to contact a former medical student called Aqsa Mahmood, a 21-year-old who left Glasgow for Syria in 2013 to join IS and marry a jihadist.
The Glaswegian was a prolific blogger and recruiter for Islamic State, praising its terror attacks online. She is still alive and thought to be a leading light in the al-Khansaa Brigade, an all-female group enforcing strict Sharia law rules on women and children in Islamic State territory.
Begum was also ‘following’ 70 other IS terrorists from around the world – both male and female – on Twitter.
But nearer home, there was a further influence on Shamima Begum. It came from another teenager, Sharmeena Begum, who is not a relation but a 15-year-old school pal and a fellow jihadi bride.
Begum said previously she still loves Riedijk (pictured) very much and fears she’ll never see him again
Normal life: Shamima Begum (right) now wears a maroon headscarf. She is pictured alongside her Canadian roommate Kimberly Polman (centre)
The girls flew to Istanbul from Gatwick and were helped ISIS traffickers through Turkey to bus all the way to Raqqa
Sharmeena disappeared from the UK on a Saturday morning in December 2014 flying from Gatwick, apparently on her own, to Turkey before crossing the border into Syria with the help of IS fighters.
The teenager’s family had allowed her to open a bank account with cash gifts given to her to mark the recent loss of her mother, a tradition in her Bangladeshi community. She withdrew £1,000 to fund her flight and told her family she was going to extra school classes on a Saturday morning before taking a plane to Turkey.
After arriving in the IS stronghold of Raqqa in 2015, she was put in the ‘house for women’ where newly arrived jihadist brides-to-be waited to be married off.
‘I applied to marry an English-speaking fighter between 20 and 25,’ she said this week. She was the first of the girls to marry, to the Dutchman from Arnhem, while Sultana married an American, Abase an Australian, and Sharmeena Begum a Bosnian.
Soon after, Shamima Begum received her first reality check of life under Islamic State. Her husband was arrested and charged with spying.
‘They imprisoned and tortured him for six and a half months,’ she says. ‘There were a lot of similar oppressions of innocent people.
Ahmed Ali, the father of a British teenager Shamima Begum who ran away to join the Islamic State group in Syria. He lives in Bangladesh
‘In some cases, fighters who fought for the caliphate were executed as spies, even though they were innocent.’
Sometimes, she says, the wrongly accused were tortured so hideously that they confessed to being spies so they would be executed to end the pain.
Despite the charge against her husband, he was released from prison, but was no longer classified as an IS fighter. The two continued to live their married life together in Raqqa, an existence that alternated between normality and horror. ‘Mostly it was a normal life in Raqqa, with every now and then bombing and stuff. But when I saw my first severed head in a bin it didn’t faze me at all. It was from a captured opposition fighter on the battlefield, an enemy of Islam.
In January 2017 she left Raqqa with her husband to live on the outskirts of the town of Al- Mayadin, where she was later slightly wounded during an airstrike that killed another woman and child in the same house. By the time she had given birth to her first child – a daughter, Sarayah – the family had moved south- west along the Euphrates valley, moving away from Syrian government advances.
The family moved on to Baghuz, which is now the last stronghold of IS. Already pregnant with her third child, she then watched as her daughter grew sick there and died, too. She described how in the past few weeks IS gave instructions to the families of all foreign fighters to make up their own minds about whether they would stay in the besieged village to face the bombings.
Begum walked out of Baghuz along a three-mile long road east of the town, where her husband surrendered to a group of Syrian government fighters. That was the last time she saw him.
Of the other Bethnal Green jihadi brides, she says that Sultana is dead, blown up in her house alongside her IS fighter husband when the building was targeted by the Russian allies of the Syrian government.
She added: ‘I was in denial when I heard. I always thought that if we were killed, we would all be killed together.’
As for the Bethnal Green ringleader Sharmeena Begum and the fourth girl, Abase, they were last heard of alive two weeks ago in Baghuz, according to Shamima Begum’s account from the refugee camp.
Wives and children of fighters were yesterday flooding out of the besieged village as 100 IS fighters made a last stand against Syrian Democratic Forces aided by the West. ‘With all the bombing, I am not sure they will have survived,’ she said.
One of three children in a family of Bangladeshi immigrants, Shamima Begum is thought to have travelled under the name of her sister Aklima, who is two years older, to avoid scrutiny at the airport gates from police over her young age.
In February she was pictured for the first time without her usual black burqa, which has been banned in the camp as part of attempts at de-radicalising the women and children.
Her tent, which she shares with US-Canadian citizen Kimberly Polman, has heating, electricity, satellite TV and cooking appliances. The women have decorated it with hearts and fairy lights for Valentine’s Day.
They have made a small sofa from blankets given to them by the UN and Miss Begum has a knitted cushion with the UK flag, made for her by her roommate.
The tent has poems about love and hangings with inspirational quotes.
Begum was stripped of her UK citizenship by former home secretary Sajid Javid after she left the UK with two school friends Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase five years ago at the age of 15 to join Islamic State in Syria.
Ten days after arriving, she married Yago Riedijk, a Dutch convert to Islam who was 23 years old at the time.
Riedijk is being held at a Kurdish detention centre in northeastern Syria. Begum gave birth to their son in the refugee camp last year. The child later died, as had her previous two children.
The 20-year-old was dealt a blow this month when she lost the first stage of her appeal against the Government’s decision to remove her citizenship.
She told the American network ABC News that her ‘whole world fell apart’ when she was stripped of her citizenship last year.
A tribunal ruled she could be stripped of her citizenship because she had not been left stateless.
Britain has refused to take back dozens of British women and children from Syria out of fear they would present a security risk back in the UK.
The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) said Begum could however turn to Bangladesh for citizenship, where her father is from.
She said: ‘When my citizenship got rejected, I felt like my whole world fell apart right in front of me.
‘You know, especially the way I was told. I wasn’t even told by a government official. I was told by journalists.’
She added: ‘I thought I would be a bit different because I had not done anything wrong before I came to Isis.’
Asked about her previous comments to the Times where she appeared unrepentant after being found in Al-Hawl camp after fleeing the village of Baghuz, she said she was ‘afraid for my life’.
She said: ‘I had just come into the camp. I had just given birth. I was hearing all these stories about women threatening other women, you know, folk uncovering their faces or speaking to men or doing interviews, or anything like that.
‘I just was afraid for my life.’