Friday 26 April 2019

Schoolgirl who joined Islamic State is 'traumatised', lawyer says as he compares her to WWI soldier

Shamima Begum in a photo provided by her family
Shamima Begum in a photo provided by her family
Shamima Begum (Metropolitan Police)
Shamima Begum caught on CCTV as she left the UK to travel to Syria

Gareth Davies

The Isil bride who travelled to Syria to marry a terrorist is "traumatised", according to her lawyer, who likened his client to a World War One soldier.

Shamima Begum, 19, flew to the Middle East four years ago to join the terror group. There, she married a Dutch-born fighter with whom she had three children.

Her two eldest children have died, but she gave birth at a refugee camp in northeastern Syria on the weekend and now wants to return to Britain.

In an interview over the weekend, Ms Begum said that people should be feeling sympathy for her, and her lawyer Tasnime Akunjee defended her attitude.

He told ITV's Good Morning Britain: "I think it's difficult to take what she's saying in the current circumstances and try to draw from the lack of emotion that she has.

"She's a traumatised person. She finds herself in a camp and was clearly quite attached to her husband, it would seem, and suddenly he's not by her side."

When confronted with the fact Ms Begum does not seem traumatised and instead appeared to be composed, Mr Akunjee said: "You might've said the same thing about a World War One soldier in the middle of shellshock."

Presenter Philip Madeley said this comparison was "a bit of a stretch", to which Mr Akumjee responded:  "It's a warzone. They're both warzones."

The Begum's family lawyer, Mr Akunjee, said he understood some of the responses to her pleas for sympathy.

He told BBC Breakfast: "The family have gone out of their way from day one to try to get her away from the Isil narrative and the context which she finds herself in.

"She's been there for four years and we would be surprised if she hadn't been further damaged beyond the degree she had already been groomed into.

"The family are concerned, as they have been for the last four years, not just to get her away, but, as of yesterday, to make sure that their grandchild - her child - is not influenced by that sort of thinking."

Shamima Begum caught on CCTV as she left the UK to travel to Syria
Shamima Begum caught on CCTV as she left the UK to travel to Syria

Mr Akunjee said he anticipated that Ms Begum would probably face criminal proceedings upon any return to the UK, but said it was the family's hope that she would be given professional help following her experience in Syria.

Ms Begum was one of three schoolgirls, along with Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase, from Bethnal Green Academy who left the UK for Syria in February 2015.

Ms Sultana was reported to have been killed in an air strike in 2016, while the other two are reported to still be alive.

Telegraph.co.uk

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editors Choice

Also in World News