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Shamima Begun insists that her jihadi husband is happy to have them married

Shamima Begum’s husband insists their marriage was a happy one and they even spent time baking – painting a picture of domestic happiness in Syria, unlike the one she painted when calling for her British citizenship to be reclaimed .

Begum, an A-star pupil at East London’s Bethnal Green Academy, left Britain in February 2015, with two friends believed to have been killed in the conflict.

Yago Riedijk, a Dutch convert, was 23 and was injured fighting for ISIS when he married the 15-year-old, days after she arrived in Syria.

She spent four years in Syria and had three children by Riedijk, two of whom died of disease or malnutrition, and a third, born after her capture by Western-backed forces, died of pneumonia.

Begum’s lawyers told an appeal last week against her deprivation of citizenship that there was “overwhelming” evidence that she had been groomed and trafficked by ISIS for the purpose of “sexual exploitation and marriage to an adult male.”

Shamima Begum Was 15 When She And Two Other East London Schoolgirls Traveled To Syria To Join Isis In February 2015

Her British Citizenship Was Revoked For National Security Reasons Shortly After She Was Found Nine Months Pregnant In A Syrian Refugee Camp In February 2019.

Her British Citizenship Was Revoked For National Security Reasons Shortly After She Was Found Nine Months Pregnant In A Syrian Refugee Camp In February 2019.

Begum, an A-star pupil at East London’s Bethnal Green Academy, left Britain in February 2015, with two friends believed to have been killed in the conflict

1669985223 484 Shamima Beguns Jihadi Husband Insists They Were Happily Married

1669985223 484 Shamima Beguns Jihadi Husband Insists They Were Happily Married

Begum’s lawyers told an appeal against her deprivation of citizenship last week that there was “overwhelming” evidence that she was being groomed and trafficked by ISIS for the purpose of “sexual exploitation and marriage to an adult male.”

“In doing so, she followed a familiar pattern of ISIS cynically recruiting and grooming female children as young as 14 so that they could be offered as females to adult males,” Nick Squires, KC, told the Special Immigration Appeals Board (SIAC).

ISIS deliberately recruited underage girls for sexual exploitation and child marriage because they were needed for “childbearing, which was an important feature of the state-building project,” he said.

However, during an interview from custody in northern Syria, Riedijk did not comment when asked about the age difference.

“Basically, I was looking for marriage and a friend of mine came to me and said there is a sister looking for marriage, are you interested? I accepted his offer,’ he said.

The former combatant described how he sat at the table with Begum: “We had a conversation, we agreed on the terms of the marriage.”

The terms were “not really anything big or anything important, it was little things like shopping, stuff like this,” he said.

Yago Riedijk, A Dutch Convert, Was 23 And Was Injured Fighting For Isis When He Married The 15-Year-Old, Days After She Arrived In Syria

Yago Riedijk, A Dutch Convert, Was 23 And Was Injured Fighting For Isis When He Married The 15-Year-Old, Days After She Arrived In Syria

Yago Riedijk, a Dutch convert, was 23 and was injured fighting for ISIS when he married the 15-year-old, days after she arrived in Syria

“Actually, she asked for some freedoms, which I wanted to give her — shopping, seeing her friends, very, very basic things. We agreed on a dowry – all she asked for was an English translation of the Qur’an, which I agreed to.”

Riedijk then went ‘looking for a house’, he said.

“I ran into a friend of mine, he offered me to live with him and we moved in with him. We got some stuff and that was the beginning of the marriage.’

Riedijk had fought in the bloody battle for Kobane at the end of 2014, against the Kurdish forces who are now holding him, and was injured in the process.

“It was known as a massacre,” he said. ‘I don’t know how to describe it. Many IS fighters died there.’

Some members of his ISIS battalion – dubbed Saif al-Dawla (Sword of ISIS) – refused to go and were thrown in jail, he said.

When he married Begum, he was “recovering and doing physical therapy,” Riedijk added.

Begum (Centre) Was One Of Three British Teenagers From Bethnal Green Academy Who Traveled To Join Isis In February 2015, Along With Kadiza Sultana (Left), 16, And Amira Abase (Right), 15. Were Killed In An Airstrike In May 2016, While Abase'S Whereabouts Are Unknown

Begum (Centre) Was One Of Three British Teenagers From Bethnal Green Academy Who Traveled To Join Isis In February 2015, Along With Kadiza Sultana (Left), 16, And Amira Abase (Right), 15. Were Killed In An Airstrike In May 2016, While Abase'S Whereabouts Are Unknown

Begum (centre) was one of three British teenagers from Bethnal Green Academy who traveled to join ISIS in February 2015, along with Kadiza Sultana (left), 16, and Amira Abase (right), 15. were killed in an airstrike in May 2016, while Abase’s whereabouts are unknown

“I’ve never been married before, it was an experience, living with someone for the first time, getting to know someone from scratch, another experience.”

When asked if he was happy, Riedijk told filmmaker Alan Duncan, “I was at that point.”

Begum kept in touch with her family, but “I don’t remember it being often, contact with her family.” It was more often with me.’

But the first phase of their marriage was short: “We were only together for 10 days and after 10 days I was arrested, I was accused of spying by the Islamic State.”

However, he revealed, “She was pregnant at the time. I didn’t know and neither did she.’

“I was not allowed to contact her, even though my house was only 150 meters from the prison.

“I asked for a visit and she came to visit me, my friend brought her, but they refused to visit me.”

When he was eventually released, Riedijk claimed to have distanced himself from ISIS in Raqqa, where he lived with Begum.

“A lot of people had talked about me, they basically said I was a spy and bad things. I started to distance myself from them, associating with the Arab community, mainly civilians.’

After his release, he returned to a “relatively normal life for a period,” he said.

“We started baking cakes, selling cakes in the market to earn money to survive.

“I was mostly cooking. We did some of it together, but she was pregnant at the time, I think. She was actually with the kids, we had a second child, my son Jarrah.

‘There were a few nice days with wife and children at home. Some nice memories.’

However, like Begum, Riedijk spoke of seeing corpses executed by ISIS in the street.

“Sometimes they leave the bodies there to scare people, sometimes you walk by,” he said.

But he said he had become accustomed to death in Raqqa: “Because of the coalition bombings, the bombings of the regime, you are constantly digging people out of the rubble. It’s hard, but something you unfortunately get used to.’

ISIS would flogging for “crimes” from smoking to fornication, Riedijk said.

“I’ve never experienced it myself, but I’ve heard about it several times.”

Asked if he and Begum expected these kinds of punishments to be meted out before joining ISIS, he replied, “We knew these things were out there, we’d heard about them.” It’s different, it’s not pleasant.’

But when asked if he thought it was wrong, Riedijk replied, “I can’t really comment.”

He added: ‘Honestly, it’s war, people are being killed. I’ve seen people killed on all sides – the regime, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Islamic State, all sides, outside prisons, people die, get killed.”

Riedijk still hopes to rebuild his life with Begum, he said, and have more children.

‘At the moment she is surrounded in the camps by women with experience as mothers, as housewives. I hope she can learn a lot from it for our future lives. I hope we can start a family again,” he said.

The government has said that Begum was a risk when her citizenship was revoked in February 2019, and remains a risk now.

The security service ruled that Begum’s trip to Syria was voluntary and that her activities before and during the trip showed “determination and commitment” to join ISIS.

MI5 said female recruits to ISIS are likely to have been radicalised, contributed to the survival of ISIS and may have had military training.

“They were subjected to routine acts of extreme violence, which likely would have desensitized individuals and encouraged them to view violent terrorist activity as an acceptable and legitimate course of action.

“ISIS was committed to continuing violence against those they considered enemies of Islam, including the UK,” they said in a statement.

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Jacky

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