Shukee Begum, who fled Isis and says that she was then held by smugglers in northern Syria, said that she wanted to return to the UK but feared what the reception would be from British authorities.
Begum travelled from Manchester to Syria with her children to find her husband, Jamal al-Harith, a former Guantánamo Bay detainee who left the UK 18 months ago.
But months after joining him, Begum said that she and her children aged nine, seven, five, three and 11 months, fled Isis-controlled territory and were held for a time by smugglers in Syria’s war-torn city of Aleppo.
Speaking about the reasons why she left the UK to join al-Harith, she said: “He’s my husband and all of a sudden he’s not there. It didn’t feel like home any more. I was trying to manage school runs, things like that.”
“I was thinking about the children’s futures. Was he part of it? Will he come back? All these things go through your mind.”
Insisting that she had never been a supporter of Isis, she said that she had taken her children to Syria because her husband was a family man, adding: “For me to take the children to see him and then come away from there that would have been more powerful than anything else I had to say to him at the time.”
She said that she wanted other women to know about the reality of life in Isis controlled territory.
“There was a gangster kind of mentality among single women there. Violence was talked about, war, killing. They would sit together, huddle around their laptops, watch Isis videos. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.”
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