A pregnant British schoolgirl who joined Islamic State in Syria says she does not regret fleeing the UK – but wants to come home so her baby can be looked after.
The girl, who says she is Shamima Begum, has revealed she is going to give birth to her baby “any day now”, having married a young Dutch IS fighter called Yago Riedijk three weeks after she arrived in Syria four years ago.
Security minister Ben Wallace told Sky News it was “worrying” that she did not regret going, and that “people know what they’re getting into”.
The government’s position, he added, was that “actions have consequences”.
The 19-year-old fled the UK in 2015 with two other friends, Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase, from Bethnal Green, and said she has been living “a normal life” in the caliphate, interrupted by “bombing and stuff”.
“Every now and again there are bombs and that, but just a normal life,” she told The Times from the al-Hawl refugee camp in northern Syria where she is among 39,000 others who have fled fighting in the last IS bastion of Baghuz.
Around 20,000 civilians, mostly IS families, were evacuated before the town of Baghuz, near the Iraqi border, came under siege last week by coalition forces who have said it is the final “decisive” battle against IS.
Speaking confidently and seemingly without any fear for her situation, Begum said she had never seen an execution during her time with IS, “but I saw a beheaded head in the bin”.
“It didn’t faze me at all,” she added.
The trio of schoolgirls had followed another friend from their school, Sharmeena Begum, who fled to Syria in 2014.
Begum said when she arrived in Raqqa she was put in the “house for women”, where jihadist brides-to-be waited to be married.
“I applied to marry an English-speaking fighter between 20 and 25 years old,” she said.
She married Riedijk, from Arnhem, then shortly after her, Sultana married an American, Abase an Australian and Sharmeena Begum a Bosnian.
Begum revealed that she has already given birth to two children, but they died of sickness aged eight months and 21 months, so she is now “overprotective” of her unborn baby.
Talking about losing her first two children, she said: “It came as a shock out of nowhere and was so hard.
“In the end, I just could not endure any more. I just couldn’t take it.
“I am scared this baby is going to get sick in this camp. That’s why I want to get back to Britain, because I know my baby will be looked after.”
Begum left Baghuz two weeks ago with her husband who surrendered to a group of Syrian fighters – and has not seen him since.
She said she had spoken to her mother recently.
“I said I wanted to leave and that I need help, that I needed her to support me if I came back to the UK,” she added.
“I know what everyone at home thinks of me as I have read all that was written about me online.
“But I just want to come home to have my child. That’s all I want right now. I’ll do anything required just to be able to come home and live quietly with my child.”