Shukee Begum, 33, who went to Syria with her five children to look for her husband, said the experience of living under ISIS’ stronghold was worse than she expected. Her husband, Jamal al-Harith, left Britain 18 months ago to fight with the Islamic State. Begum has described her stay at the ISIS dominated city of Raqqa as “not my cup of tea.”
Begum, who is a law graduate from northern England, U.K., said she only went to Syria to bring back her husband and not because she shared the ideology of ISIS. He joined ISIS militants 18-months ago and asked his wife to join him in Syria, despite her six-month pregnancy. She refused to join him at that time and waited until her child was four weeks old. After repeated pressure from her husband, she then took all her children to Turkey for a holiday and was smuggled across the border into Syria.
“I was seeing on the news at this point that ISIS was going from bad to worse. So I decided that I was going to try and speak some sense into him,” she told Channel 4 News. “My husband is a family man. I’ve always known him. I’ve been married to him for 11 years. I’ve always known him to be a good man with good characteristics.”
Begum later reunited with her husband but he did not help her get out of Syria. An appeal to the ISIS authority too yielded no result as she was refused permission to leave the country. She warned other women who were thinking of going to an ISIS-dominated region that it is not easy to sneak out once someone has set foot on their territory.
Begum was held captive in Aleppo after she was smuggled out of ISIS territory by a group of smugglers. After about three months in captivity, Begum was finally freed with the help of an American journalist, Bilal Abdul Kareem. She is now living at a place near the border with Turkey and is looking forward to return to U.K. soon, as she considers the country to be her home.