Briton Who Travelled to Syria: ISIS ‘Not My Cup of Tea’
A British woman who fled the Islamic State (ISIS) group with her five children after travelling to Syria described the experience as “not my cup of tea” in an interview quoted by AFP.
Shukee Begum, 33, travelled to Syria with her children to find her husband Jamal al-Harith, a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who left Britain 18 months ago to join the group, Britain’s Channel 4 news reported.
A law graduate from northern England, Begum insists she only travelled to convince her husband to return and never supported the ISIS militants, who have carved out regions of control in Iraq and Syria.
“I was seeing on the news at this point that ISIS was going from bad to worse… So I decided that I was going to try and speak some sense into him,” she was quoted as having told Channel 4 news.
At first, Begum lived in a overcrowded safe house in the ISIS-controlled city of Raqqa with dozens of other women and children, many “crying” and “sick”.
“There was a gangster kind of mentality among single women there. Violent talk, talking about war, killing,” Begum said.
“They would sit together and huddle around their laptops and watch ISIS videos together and discuss them and everything. It was just not my cup of tea,” she added.
After she was reunited with her husband, who refused to help her leave, ISIS authorities would not allow her to go, Begum added.
“This is what I want to make clear as well to other women thinking of coming into ISIS territory — that you can’t just expect to come into ISIS territory and then expect that you can just leave again easily,” Begum said, according to AFP.
“There is no personal autonomy there at all.”
She was smuggled out of the territory before being held captive in the city ofAleppo, and is now living close to the border with Turkey and hopes to move back to Britain, Channel 4 reported.
Hundreds of Britons are thought to have travelled to join ISIS jihadists over the past year.
A report released last month indicated that dozens of fighters have defected from the group, which has become notorious for beheadings and blowing up ancient Syrian monuments, often due to disillusionment over killing fellow Sunni Muslims and civilians.
One of the more well-publicized instances of Britons travelling to Syria to join jihadists was the case of three British teenage girls who crossed the Turkey-Syria border to join ISIS in February.
The three teens, Shamima Begum, 15, Amira Abase, also 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, are now feared to have reached the conflict zone and are believed to be staying at a house in the city of Raqqa, a stronghold of ISIS.
A year ago in November, two brothers became the first Britons to be jailed for terrorism in Syria, after they had admitted conspiracy to attend a terrorism training camp in 2013.
A month later, a British mother of six who hoped one of her sons would become a jihadist was jailed for five years and three months after she used social media to encourage acts of terror in Syria.
Another famous Briton who joined ISIS is the man known as “Jihadi John”, who has appeared in several ISIS beheading videos.