- British teenager Shamima Begum told The Times of London that she wanted to return to the UK, four years after fleeing to marry an ISIS fighter.
- She fled East London in February 2015, with classmates Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana, to meet another classmate, Sharmeena Begum, who had left for Syria months earlier.
- Once in Syria, all four teenaged girls were married off to non-British ISIS fighters.
- Four years later, one woman is dead, two are missing, and Shamima Begum is living in a Syrian refugee camp after her husband turned himself in to Syrian forces.
British teenager Shamima Begum made headlines this week after asking to return home to the UK, four years after fleeing to become an ISIS bride.
Begum, then 15, and her classmates Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana, fled East London in February 2015 to join classmate Sharmeena Begum in Syria, where they were all married off to non-British ISIS fighters, according to The Times of London.
Four years later, one woman is dead, two are missing, and Shamima Begum is living in a Syrian refugee camp, hoping to return to London.
Begum is now 19, nine months pregnant, and living in the al-Hawl Syrian refugee camp in northeast Syria, which holds about 39,000 people.
The UK has said it will not send troops to rescue her, and if she does return, Begum could face prosecution, the BBC reports.
Here’s how her journey unfolded.
February 2015: British teen Shamima Begum and her schoolmates Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana make plans to meet Sharmeena Begum in Syria.
In February 2015, a 15-year-old Shamima Begum fled her home in Bethnal Green, East London, along with classmates 15-year-old Amira Abase and 16-year-old Kadiza Sultana, according to The Times
Their plan was to meet Sharmeena Begum, a fellow 15-year-old and former classmate who had fled to Syria and ISIS in 2014.
On the day they left, the trio lied to their parents, saying they had plans for the day, including a wedding and schoolwork.
Instead, they stole and sold their families’ jewellery, and paid more than £1,000 ($US1,279) in cash to make travel plans through a London travel agent.
They took a plane from London Gatwick Airport to Turkey before being picked up by smugglers working with ISIS and taken across the Syrian border, according to the BBC.
Their plan was to meet Sharmeena Begum, who had left months earlier.
Once in Syria, the women stayed at a “house for women” and waited to become jihadi brides for foreign fighters.
Once married, they would raise a new generation of ISIS-supporting children.
February 2015: Shamima Begum and the other teens apply to marry ISIS fighters.
Once in a “women’s house” in Raqqa, Syria, Begum applied to marry “an English-speaking fighter between 20 and 25 years old,” reported the BBC.
Ten days later, she wed 27-year-old Yago Riedijk, a Dutch national fighting for ISIS, according to The Times.
The three other women reportedly also married foreign-born ISIS fighters.
August 2016: Sultana is feared dead.
Sultana is thought to have died during an airstrike in Raqqa in the summer of 2016, according to the Washington Post.
It is believed she was killed in May, but her family did not make a statement about her possible death until August.
Her sister, Halima Khanom said in a statement to ITV: “We were expecting this, in a way. But at least we know she is in a better place.”
ITV reported at the time that Sultana had become disillusioned with life in Syria, wanted to flee the country and return to the UK.
January 2017: Begum and her husband leave Raqqa
Begum and Reidjik fled Raqqa and moved first southeast to the town of Mayadin, then further along the Euphrates valley.
The teen had two children with Reidjik, but both died in infancy from malnutrition and illness, CNN reported.
June 2018: Sharmeena Begum and Abase are last seen alive by Shamima Begum.
Shamima Begum last saw her two surviving classmates, Sharmeena Begum and Abase, in June 2018, according to The Times.
Shamima Begum told the Times both Sharmeena Begum and Abase are now widows.
January 2019: Begum flees from ISIS in the village of Baghouz in eastern Syria.
Begum told The Times that her husband surrendered to Syrian fighters allied to the Syrian Democratic Forces weeks ago and she hasn’t seen him since.
Following his surrender, she took a bus to al-Hawl with other fleeing ISIS families, and now hopes to return to UK to raise her unborn child.
But if she returns, she could face questioning, investigation and prosecution, UK security minister Ben Wallace told the TV show Good Morning Britain.
“The government have been incredibly clear, as have the police that if you go and support these types of organisations there are consequences for that,” he said. “And if you come back here, you should expect to be investigated and you should potentially expect to be charged with terrorist offenses or other offenses.”
According to a 2018 report from the International Center for the Study of Radicalization, more than 40,000 citizens from 80 country’s have become affiliated with Islamic groups in Iraq and Syria.
Of the approximately 5,000 Europeans who have fled their countries to join the Islamic State, about 1,200 have returned, according to a 2018 European Parliament report.
INSIDER reporter Alexandra Ma contributed to this article
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