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Friend who ‘inspired’ Shamima Begum to join IS says she’s ‘just another individual living off terror benefits’

Shamima Begum lost her UK citizenship appeal last month  (PA)
Shamima Begum lost her UK citizenship appeal last month (PA)

Shamima Begum’s former friend has mocked the IS bride as “just another individual living off the benefits” of the terror group.

Sharmeena Begum, no relation, was a former friend of Shamima in Bethnal Green. In December 2014, Sharmeena went missing and fled the UK in order to join IS.

Two months later Shamima, who was 15 at the time along with two other friends, left the UK in order to join IS. Now 23, Shamima remains in a camp in northern Syria.

A journalist from the BBC’s Shamima Begum podcast contacted Sharmeena after being tracked down in Syria hiding and using a different identity.

In conversation with the journalist who posed as an IS sympathiser, Sharmeena claimed that her one-time friend was “just another individual living off the benefits” who did not contribute at all.

She also goes further to mock her friend as a failure and a non-believer, adding that Shamima just “followed her friends into what became the biggest misery of her life", the report states.

When talking of her former friend, Shamima said her schoolmate had played a large part in convincing her to travel to Syria to join IS.

She said: “Sharmeena was, you know, talking to us face-to-face about, you know, coming to ISIS.

“I was being manipulated into thinking this was the right thing to do and I was being manipulated with lies about where I would be going and what I would be doing.”

Last month, Shamima lost her UK citizenship appeal, as a court rejected her claims that she was unlawfully stripped of her British citizenship.

The special immigration appeals judges did not agree that the Home Office acted unlawfully when they removed her nationality.

The judge said that although there was a “credible suspicion” that she was a trafficking victim, this was not a factor that needed to be considered when removing her citizenship, which was done on national security grounds.

Former Home Secretary Sajid Javid revoked Ms Begum’s citizenship amid reports she had Bangladeshi citizenship owing to her heritage, despite Bangladeshi officials saying otherwise.