March 04, 2019

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Shamima Begum: What was life like for the IS couple in Syria?


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Media captionYago Riedijk spoke to Quentin Sommerville in a Kurdish detention centre

Shamima Begum stated she joined the Islamic State group (IS) in search of the good household life, and it was in Raqqa, shortly after she arrived in Syria 4 years in the past, that it organized a wedding between her and Dutch armed extremist Yago Riedijk.

She was 15 at the time and he was 23. In the UK, he could be responsible of statutory rape.

He sits reverse me in a yellow plastic chair, 27 years outdated now, in a freezing interview room in a Kurdish detention centre. His guards have simply eliminated his handcuffs.

If I see Shamima, he asks me to “tell her that I love her and have patience”.

“Hopefully soon we’ll be together again and things will turn out all right – hopefully.”

It appears unlikely that can occur anytime quickly.

Over the subsequent hour, he paints a contradictory image of an insulated house life, and a maelstrom of terror outdoors.

He stated he saved the two separate and that his spouse, regardless of her public statements to the opposite, was unaware of IS’s crimes.

“I was keeping her in a protected shell,” he stated.

“I didn’t give her any details about what was happening outdoors. The issues that I was going through, the risks.

“She was simply sitting inside caring for the family whereas I was attempting to get by.

“Feed her, feed myself. Try to maintain out of hassle. Try to not getting killed by secret providers.

“You know, making choices that modified our lives, attempting to maintain us in security.”

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Reuters

Image caption

IS was pushed out of Raqqa, the de facto capital of its “caliphate”, in October 2017

When I met Ms Begum final week, she stated she had joined IS in search of the good household life.

She informed me: “My household would not assist me get married in the UK and the manner they confirmed household life in IS was fairly good.

“Like the good household life, saying they’d deal with you and deal with your loved ones. And that was true.

“They did take care of me and my family at first but things changed after that.”

Their caliphate dream unravelled shortly.

It was a world of headless corpses and IS jail and torture for Mr Riedijk.

When I requested him if he knew of any Yazidis – the spiritual sect IS enslaved and murdered – he had this to say: “I heard about one Dutch man. He had a slave.

“That’s about as shut as I ever acquired to a slave. I heard she was about 40 years outdated.”

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Media captionShamima Begum: ‘I acquired tricked and I was hoping somebody would have sympathy with me’

Ms Begum had stated she had seen a human head in a bin; her husband defined it was in a bag on prime of a pile of useless IS prisoners sporting army uniforms.

And he attended the stoning of a girls accused of “fornication”.

“I actually never witnessed a beheading,” he stated. “I’ve really witnessed a stoning as soon as.

“And I’ve watched, I’ve seen individuals who have been executed however not the execution itself.”

“Actually, she wasn’t stoned to loss of life,” he corrected. “She stood up and she or he ran away.

“And, after that, they stated to the guys who have been throwing stones: ‘Stop throwing stones.’

“It’s not allowed to throw the stones after she will get up and runs away. So we stopped throwing stones at her and she or he escaped. After that they left her alone.”

‘I made an enormous mistake’

Mr Riedijk’s spouse claimed that he “wasn’t actually a fighter”, however he went to struggle for IS in Kobane and was injured.

He fought once more in Aleppo.

He stated: “I made an enormous mistake. I’ve thrown away years of my life. It was not my life.

“Luckily, I didn’t directly hurt other people. But me joining and supporting a group like that. It’s something that’s not acceptable.”

He added that he had hardly used his weapon.

Now he says he needs to return to the Netherlands, along with his spouse, and his new child child son.

“I would love to go back to my own country,” he stated, “which I now perceive the privileges that I lived with. The privilege of residing there as a citizen.

“And, after all, I perceive that many individuals have an issue with what I did and I completely perceive that.

“I have to take responsibility for what I did, serve my sentence. But I hope to be able to return to a normal life and to raise a family.”

For now, Ms Begum and Mr Riedijk have neither their passports nor management of their very own destiny.

They gave up each once they joined the Islamic State group, and are unlikely to see the return of both anytime quickly.

Ms Begum is in a lady’s internment camp not very distant from her imprisoned husband.

Kurdish officers say there aren’t any plans for them to be reunited.



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