Shamima Begum believes she may have inadvertently harmed her prospects of returning to the UK by drawing public attention to her situation.
The British-born 19-year-old, who travelled from east London to Syria to join Islamic State (Isis) in 2015 while still a schoolgirl, faces being stripped of her British citizenship in what some have described as a populist move by the home secretary, Sajid Javid.
In an interview with the Sunday Telegraph, Begum, who wants to return from Syria with her newborn son , whom she says is unwell, said: “They are making an example of me. I regret speaking to the media. I wish I had stayed low and found a different way to contact my family. That’s why I spoke.”
Begum’s case has been the subject fierce debate since she first spoke about her desire to return to the UK earlier this month. at the al-Hol refugee camp in Syria.
Some argue that she is a security risk and has shown little remorse, but others say that she is being unfairly singled out. The Home Office confirmed last year that about 400 Britons had returned to the UK from the Middle East having fought with groups such as Isis.
International law is clear that a person’s citizenship can not be revoked if doing so would make them stateless. Begum is of Bangladeshi heritage, but she says she has never held or applied for Bangladeshi citizenship and the former British colony has insisted it will not not allow her to enter the country.
In a letter to Javid written by her eldest sister Renu, Begum’s family pleads for help in bringing her newborn baby back to Britain. The home secretary has indicated that its citizenship is unaffected by the move to deprive Begum of her rights.
The family said it had been “shocked and appalled at the vile comments” Begum made, but that it planned to help her challenge the decision to strip her of her British citizenship because she had been exploited and “fundamentally damaged” during her time with Isis.
Her father, however, told the Mail on Sunday he did not have a problem with the government forfeiting his daughter’s right to return to the UK. Speaking from his home in the Sunamganj region of north-east Bangladesh, Ahmed Ali, 60, said: “I am on the side of the government.
“I can’t say whether it is right or wrong, but if the law of the land says that it is correct to cancel her citizenship, then I agree … If she at least admitted she made a mistake then I would feel sorry for her and other people would feel sorry for her. But she does not accept her wrong.”