March 20, 2023


Season Finale of the Critically Acclaimed Companion Podcast Series “The Shamima Begum Story” Available Globally on March 22nd

March 20, 2023 – Shamima Begum, the British teenager who left London to join the Islamic State, has given the BBC what she says is her full account of what really happened. The BBC has investigated Begum’s story for a 10-episode podcast “The Shamima Begum Story”, season 2 of BBC’s “I’m Not a Monster” series and a critically acclaimed feature length film titled “The Shamima Begum Story: The School Girl Who Joined ISIS,” which today has been made available for the first time to audiences in the U.S. and Canada on BBC Select.

Both programs seek to separate fact from fiction as investigative journalist Josh Baker forensically examines and challenges Shamima Begum’s account to understand what really happened when she got to Syria. “The Shamima Begum Story: The School Girl Who Joined ISIS”

At 15, Shamima Begum left London to join the terror group Islamic State. It made global headlines. She and her two friends became known as the Bethnal Green Girls. Four years later, pregnant with her third child, Begum emerged from the ashes of the so-called caliphate, desperate to come home. But she showed little remorse for her time with the group. The British government decided she was a threat and took away her citizenship, leaving her in a Syrian prison camp. Her lawyers claim she is a victim of trafficking and should be allowed to return to the UK.

For more than a year, Josh Baker has retraced her journey, piecing together where she went, who she met and what she did while she was living with ISIS to try and find out the truth.

The documentary further explores radicalisation in the UK and sheds light on the reasons behind why, and how, some young people join the Islamic State Group. The film premieres today on BBC Select via Amazon Prime Video Channels, the Apple TV app and The Roku Channel. “The Shamima Begum Story: Season 2 of I’m Not a Monster”

Earlier this year, the BBC premiered season two of BBC’s widely acclaimed “I’m Not A Monster” series which centers around the story of Shamima Begum. Josh Baker continues his investigation across the 10-episode season, exploring and unpacking new revelations including the recent news that Begum lost her challenge over the decision to deprive her of British citizenship despite a “credible” case she was trafficked.

The final episode of the season will be available on March 22nd, wherever you get your podcasts. Click here to catch up on the podcast.

The podcast series is produced by Joe Kent, Sara Obeidat and Josh Baker, with series editor Jonathan Aspinwall for BBC Long Form Audio. It was commissioned by Dylan Haskins for BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Sounds. The film is directed by Josh Baker, produced by Sara Obeidat and Sasha Joelle Achilli and the executive producer is Sarah Waldron.

Notable news lines explored in both the documentary and podcast series:

At the Detention Camp

“This is, I feel, worse than a prison. I think it’s because at least with prison sentences you know that there will be an end. But here you don’t know if there’s gonna be an end.”

Asked whether she thinks she’ll ever return home, Begum says no, “because ISIS was the worst thing of the 21st century and I was a part of it and now I have to face the consequences of my actions and this, this camp is the consequences of my actions.”

Public Perception

Acknowledging that the public sees her as a potential danger, Begum said: “[People perceive me] as a danger, as a risk, as a potential risk to them, to their safety, to their way of living. I’m not this person that they think I am being perceived as in the media, you know I’m just so much more than ISIS and I’m so much more than everything I’ve been through.”

“I do understand [why society has so much anger toward me]. But I don’t think it’s actually towards me. I think it’s towards ISIS. When they think of ISIS they think of me because I’ve been put on the media so much.”

Challenged that the media coverage was a consequence of her decision to join the Islamic State Group, she said: “But what was there to obsess over, we went to ISIS that was it, it was over, it was over and done with, what more is there to say. Like they just wanted to continue the story because it was a story, it was the big story.”

Pressed further by Baker on whether she accepts she joined a terrorist group, Shamima Begum said: “Yes, I did”.

Baker asks Begum is she was aware of the atrocities committed by ISIS before deciding to leave the UK. Begum says: “To be honest I did not know about these atrocities because I, as a 15 year old, I did not watch the news, I got my news on social media and, like the people who I spoke to on social media were saying no it’s not true, it’s an exaggeration, they’re just trying to make ISIS look bad because they hate Islam.”

Begum claimed that she didn’t see the sort of videos of people being executed that were so widely publicized.

Taking Responsibility

Baker challenges that Begum was part of a group that committed genocide, and whether or not she fired a bullet at a massacre, her presence with them was an act of support, and therefore she shares some responsibility.

Baker says: “You did go and join ISIS, you were a member of that group. That group was committing genocide and committing crimes. You are part of a group doing those things and as a result of that you share some responsibility for that group’s actions.”

Begum responds: “I’m not going to take responsibility for other people’s actions, it would have happened regardless of whether I was there or not.”

No Remorse

When asked about his marriage to Begum, ISIS fighter Yago Riedijk tells Baker that he is the one in charge, that obedience is important, and that she must do what he says unless “she has a valid excuse.”

“I put it to him that he decided to marry a child” says Baker. Riedijk, who was 23 at the time that he married 15 year-old Begum, meets Baker with a “deathly stare.” “The fighter in him revealed. As quickly as it emerges, it subsides; instead, arrogance plays out,” says Baker.

“You might not agree with it but it doesn’t mean it’s not right” says Riedijk


The Shamima Begum Story is important investigative journalism from BBC News. At a time when there is a public interest in her situation, listeners will hear Josh Baker forensically testing Shamima Begum’s account and carefully retracing her route from London to Syria. We investigate key editorial questions about how she got to Islamic State Group territory in Syria, what she did when she got there, and the consequences of her actions. It also explores radicalisation in the UK, issues of national security and features testimony by those impacted by the group.

This is not a platform for Shamima Begum to give her unchallenged story. This is a robust, public interest investigation into who she really is and what she really did.