Britain’s 21-year-old “jihadist bride” wants to return home

“I was a stupid child when I joined the Islamic State. Can I go home now?” Begum, a 21-year-old “jihadist bride” from the United Kingdom, expressed his regret in an interview in a refugee camp in Syria. situation. She told reporters that she wanted to return to the UK now. However, Begum was deprived of his citizenship in 2019. Although Begum appealed this, the British Supreme Court prohibited him from returning to the country on the grounds of “national security” in February this year. Like Begum, there are many European and American girls who have been deceived into becoming “jihadist brides” in their youth. Although they regret not at the beginning, it is not easy to return to the motherland.

The British “Daily Mail” said on the 15th that British filmmaker Andrew Drewry is shooting a documentary called “Dangerous Zone”. In the Roy refugee camp in Syria, he met Begum from London, England. Begum wears jeans, a black leather hat, a fashionable handbag in his hand, and his nails are painted red. He looks like a Western girl dressed up, and is very different from the previous image of a “jihadist bride” wearing a headscarf. “I wear these clothes, I don’t wear a headscarf, because it makes me very happy.” She said, “In this camp, everything that makes me happy is like a’life-saving straw.”

Begum said, “I don’t think I’m a terrorist. I think I’m just a stupid kid who made mistakes.” She said, “Personally, I don’t think I need reform, but I want to help other people. I’ve changed myself. I am willing to help.” When asked what she would say to the British, Begum blurted out: “Can I go home?”

In February 2015, 15-year-old Begum, a 15-year-old girl with dual citizenship from the United Kingdom and Bangladesh, and two other girls took a Turkish Airlines flight from London Gatwick Airport to Turkey, then went to Syria and joined “Islamic State” organization. She lived under the rule of the “Islamic State” for more than three years, married a local “holy warrior” from the Netherlands, and gave birth to three children, but these children have unfortunately died. Of the two friends who went to Syria with Begum at the time, one of them has been confirmed to have died in the battlefield, and the other is said to have also been killed. And Begum’s Dutch husband is now being held in a Syrian prison.

Begum was discovered by a British journalist in a Syrian refugee camp in 2019. She had no regrets in her conversation at the time. This report also aroused the anger of British public opinion at the time. In the same year, Begum refused to condemn the Manchester Arena bombing, which killed 23 people. In another interview, she said that when she saw someone beheaded for the first time in Syria, “it didn’t make me feel uneasy at all.” In 2019, the then Secretary of the Interior of the United Kingdom deprived Begum of his citizenship in accordance with the British Nationality Act. Her family appealed the decision. Their legal team stated that Begum must be allowed to return to the UK so she can testify in person. In July 2020, the British Court of Appeal ruled that Begum could return home to appeal. But the British Supreme Court ruled in February this year that Begum was not allowed to return to China to appeal because she would pose a risk to British national security.

The Begum incident aroused strong repercussions in European and American countries. After the “Daily Mail” published an exclusive interview with her on the 15th, many netizens expressed their sympathy for Begum. A European netizen said that Begum is still young and she can completely reform. Some netizens questioned how they went out back then and why no one blocked it? However, many netizens worry that if these “jihadist brides” are allowed to return to China, they may become “time bombs” for European and American societies.

German News Television reported on the 15th that according to incomplete statistics from various European and American non-governmental organizations, there are at most 3,000 “jihadist brides” and children from nearly 30 countries in a few refugee camps in Syria. Most of these “jihadist brides” joined the “Islamic State” in their 20s. Many people have even been married many times. Some people have already returned to their country, while others hope to return to their country as soon as possible. At present, governments of different countries have very different policies towards “jihadist brides.” Since 2017, Russia has been systematically bringing back Russian women and children from Iraq and Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin once said that it was the right thing to take them back home and promised that the government will help.

The then US President Trump suddenly announced the withdrawal of troops from Syria in December 2019 and asked European countries such as Britain, France and Germany to take back the “jihadist brides.” The United States itself refuses some “jihadist brides” to return home. Many European countries such as Germany have adopted the practice of allowing “jihadist brides” to return to their country for trial. In July 2019, 32-year-old Sapinet became the first “jihadist bride” sentenced in Germany. She faced a five-year prison sentence. This case has also become an example of convictions for “jihadists” who returned from the war zone to Germany. However, “jihadist brides” can receive German benefits and their children can also enjoy child benefits, which makes many taxpayers dissatisfied.

The issue of “jihadist brides” has also triggered diplomatic disputes between New Zealand and Australia. Arden, 26, was born in New Zealand, but has been living in Australia since the age of 6. She has dual citizenship of both countries. She traveled to Syria in 2014 with an Australian passport. In February 2021, Arden was detained while trying to enter Turkey from Syria with his two children. Subsequently, Turkey began to deport him from the country. However, Australia took the lead to cancel the Australian citizenship of Ardennes as early as last year. In this regard, New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern accused Australia of completely giving up the responsibilities of a country of origin after depriving Ardennes of nationality. The German weekly “Focus” stated that most of the “jihadist brides” come from European and American countries, and most of them are very young girls. This is a wake-up call, showing that European and American countries still have a lot of work to do in defending against juvenile terrorism.