Shamima Begum, a British teenager who fled her home to join ISIS when she was 15-years-old, now says that she wants to return home.
Speaking to The Times of London, Begum says that she is no longer the “same silly little 15-year-old schoolgirl” who traveled to Syria with two other friends — Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase — back in 2015.
Upon arriving in Syria, one of the three girls — Sultana — was eventually killed in an airstrike. According to intelligence, it’s unclear if Begum, Sultana, and Abasa were ever actually combatants or how deep their support for the Islamic State went.
Now, four years after fleeing to Syria, Begum — who is pregnant — says she wants to return home.
However, despite her desire to return to the United Kingdom, Begum said in her interview with The Times that she “does not regret” going to Syria.
As for why the British government is hesitant to allow Begum, and others like her, back into the country is out of fear that they could mount an attack once back inside the country. Similarly, attempting to monitor these individuals “represents a huge burden for governments.”
NBC News security analyst Duncan Gardham said in an interview that someone who “spent a lot of time in the caliphate is likely to be radicalized.”
“Somebody who has spent a lot of time in the caliphate is likely to be radicalized, and women are as capable of committing terrorist acts as men,” Gardham told NBC News. “It may be a difficult task to make sure she is not radicalized and ensure that she’s not a threat,” he continued.
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