A teenage girl who fled Britain to join Islamic State has claimed that she thought the Manchester Arena bombing was ‘justified’ as retaliation for Syrian air strikes.
In an interview with the BBC, Shamima Begum, now 19, said the deaths of 22 innocent people in the terrorist attack on an Ariana Grande concert in 2017 were akin to the ‘women and children’ being bombed in IS territory in Baghuz.
She told the broadcaster: ‘I do feel that it's wrong that innocent people did get killed. It's one thing to kill a soldier that is fighting you, it's self-defence, but to kill the people like women and children…
‘Just people like the women and children in Baghuz that are being killed right now unjustly, the bombings. It's a two-way thing really.
‘Because women and children are being killed back in the Islamic State right now and it's kind of retaliation.
‘Like, their justification was that it was retaliation so I thought 'OK, that is a fair justification'.’
The mother-of-three, who gave birth to her third child at the weekend, left east London with two friends in 2015 to join the terrorist group.
She was partly inspired by videos of fighters beheading hostages and partly by other propaganda films showing the ‘good life’ IS could offer.
Since she has been there, her two older children have died.
The teenager insisted she did not ask to be the subject of international media attention.
She said: ‘I didn't want to be on the news at first. I know a lot of people, after they saw that me and my friends came, it actually encouraged them.
‘I did hear, yeah, a lot of people were encouraged to come after I left but I wasn't the one that put myself on the news. We didn't want to be on the news.’
UK authorities now face the difficult question of what to do if Ms Begum manages to return to Britain.
Her family's lawyer, Tasnime Akunjee, said he anticipated that she would face criminal proceedings upon any return to the UK, but said it was the family's hope that she would be given professional help following her experience in Syria.
He told BBC Breakfast: ‘The family have gone out of their way from day one to try to get her away from the IS narrative and the context which she finds herself in.
‘She's been there for four years and we would be surprised if she hadn't been further damaged beyond the degree she had already been groomed into.
‘The family are concerned, as they have been for the last four years, not just to get her away, but, as of yesterday, to make sure that their grandchild - her child - is not influenced by that sort of thinking.’