London - Islamic State bride Shamima Begum said Western air strikes against Syria were a ‘fair justification’ for the Manchester Arena suicide bombing in which 22 innocent people died.
The 19-year-old, who ran away from her east London home to join Isis in 2015 and is now begging to be allowed to return, said the devastating attack on an Ariana Grande concert in 2017 was ‘retaliation’ for ‘women and children’ being bombed in Syria.
The unrepentant teenager, who gave birth to her third child, a baby boy, in a refugee camp on Sunday, told the BBC: "I do feel that is wrong that innocent people did get killed. It’s one thing to kill a soldier that is fighting you, it’s fine, it’s self-defence. But to kill people like women and children, just like the women and children in Baghuz [Isis’s last stronghold] who are being killed right now unjustly by the bombings – it’s a two-way thing, really, because women and children are being killed back in Islamic State right now. It’s kind of retaliation. Their [Isis’s] justification [for Manchester] was that it was retaliation, so I thought, 'OK, that is a fair justification.'"
Begum said she was "sorry" to all the families who had lost loved ones in Isis-inspired attacks in the UK and across Europe, adding: "That wasn’t fair on them. They weren’t fighting anyone. They weren’t causing any harm."
"But neither was I and neither were other women who are being killed right now back in Baghuz."
Begum’s efforts to return to the UK have sparked controversy, with Home Secretary Sajid Javid claiming he will try to block those who have joined Islamic State from being allowed back in.
Last night, Manchester bombing survivor Robby Potter, 49, who was blasted through the heart with shrapnel while with his family, said: "How can she even be considered to be allowed back when she has just stated it was fair justification? I can’t even believe it’s even being debated. She’s gone over there of her own choice, yet now wants to come back and bring her kid up here. She shouldn’t be allowed back. It’s outrageous."
"The authorities would probably have to give her a new identity to protect her – then what about the resources of the security services monitoring her to make sure she is not a risk to the British public?"
Isis claimed responsibility for the bombing by Salman Abedi on May 22, 2017, which killed children as young as eight and wounded 139 people, saying it was in response to ‘transgression’ against Muslims.
Begum said before she fled to Syria with fellow Bethnal Green Academy schoolgirls Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase, she watched Isis videos of ‘beheadings’. She also watched propaganda videos of "families and stuff in the park, the good life they [IS] can provide for you" before settling in Raqqa and marrying Yago Riedijk, a convicted terrorist who police believe was part of a cell plotting an atrocity in Europe.
She emerged in a refugee camp in northern Syria last week and spoke of her desperation to return to the UK to raise her son. Her first two children died of unknown illnesses in the war-torn country.
But on Monday Mr Javid reiterated that Britons who join Isis "hate our country" and will be stripped of citizenship if possible. "If you back terror, there must be consequences," he said.
Begum has now pleaded for "forgiveness". She said: "I actually do support some British values and I am willing to go back to the UK and settle back again and rehabilitate and that stuff."
The teenager denied being an Isis ‘poster girl’ but admitted her disappearance with friends in 2015, which made headlines around the world, had incited many others to join the hateful group. She said: "The poster girl thing was not my choice. Me just going there and being a housewife and them taking care of me, it’s not really in any way helping. I’m not paying for their bullets."
But she added: "I just want forgiveness really, from the UK."
"Everything I’ve been through, I didn’t expect I would go through that. Losing my children the way I lost them, I don’t want to lose this baby as well and this is really not a place to raise children, this camp."
Tasnime Akunjee, solicitor for the families of the Bethnal Green girls, has said he would like an assessment on Begum’s mental health and blamed her radicalisation on Tower Hamlets Council, Bethnal Green Academy and the Metropolitan Police. He said: "It is almost inconceivable that no agency has been investigated let alone held to account for the litany of failures that resulted in the Bethnal Green schoolgirls managing to travel to Isis."Daily Mail