UK teen runaway who joined IS ‘wants to come home’

LONDON (AFP) – A British teenager who fled to join the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria is living in a refugee camp and wants to return home, The Times reported.

Shamima Begum, now 19, expressed no regrets about fleeing her London life four years ago but said that two of her children had died and, pregnant with her third, she wanted to return.

She left the militants as they staged their last stand in Baghouz in eastern Syria, near the Iraqi border.

“I was weak. I could not endure the suffering and hardship that staying on the battlefield involved,” she told the newspaper from the Al-Hawl camp.

“But I was also frightened that the child I am about to give birth to would die like my other children if I stayed on. So I fled the caliphate. Now all I want to do is come home to Britain.”

She described life under IS with her Dutch husband, who surrendered as they left, telling The Times: “Mostly it was normal life in Raqqa, 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 fighter seized on the battlefield, an enemy of Islam.

She added: “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.”

Begum was one of three schoolgirls from the same school in the east London district of Bethnal Green who ran away to join the IS group in 2015.

Another girl from the same area left the year before.