Shukee Begum, a British woman who visited the Islamic State of Syria to be with her ISIS-supporting husband and “put some sense into him”, ended up getting stuck there and was even held hostage for three months.
Fleeing from the Islamist State, Shukee now lives around the Syria-Turkey border with her five children because her husband refused to quit ISIS and accompany his family.
Jamal al-Harith, a former Guantánamo Bay detainee who left the UK 18 months ago, was the reason she came to Syria, she did not give up on him. “He’s my husband and all of a sudden he’s not there. It didn’t feel like home any more. I was trying to manage school runs, things like that. I was thinking about the children’s futures. Was he part of it? Will he come back? All these things go through your mind,” she told the Channel 4 News. Eventually, she met with him and tried to convince him to go back but all in vain. She says he wasn’t ISIS-like when he was with his family but would not return home.
In this video, Shukee narrates her experience of living under ISIS watch. She was taken to ISIS safe house, which is unlike how it’s shown in the videos shared by the ISIS. Nearly a hundred families live together sharing one or two bathrooms and kitchen; filled with single women who have a “gangster mentality”.
“There was a gangster kind of mentality among single women there. Violence was talked about, war, killing. They would sit together, huddle around their laptops, watch Isis videos. It just wasn’t my cup of tea,” she says.
She asked permission to leave, but the ISIS courts refused it. Her husband didn’t help her either. After managing to flee, Shukee was held by smugglers close to the Turkish border for “86 days” and then she was released. According to Channel 4 News, Syrian rebels from the Nusra Front helped her.
“This is what I want to make clear as well to other women thinking of coming into ISIS territory – that you can’t just expect to come into ISIS territory and then expect that you can just leave again easily. There is no personal autonomy there at all.”