A British Muslim woman who was found guilty of taking her toddler son along to join the Islamic State (Isis) in Syria now claims that she regrets taking the “wrong path”. Tareena Shakil in 2014 had fled to West Asia with her then one-year-old son. In 2016, she was convicted of being a terrorist in the Isis fold and sentenced for encouraging terrorism after she returned to Britain.
Previously, Shakil had said that she had told her family she was taking her son on a Turkish beach holiday. However, she used her student loan to fund the trip and crossed the border into Syria and headed for Raqqa, a stronghold of Isis in Syria. During her trial, Shakil had denied the terrorism charges and claimed that she only travelled to Syria because she wanted to live under strict Islamic law. But photos on her phone showed her wearing an ISIS balaclava and posing with an AK-47.
Now, in her first interview since the time she was released in 2018, Shakil said that she regrets taking the “wrong path”. In a televised ITV programme “Exposure”, the 31-year-old British Muslim woman said that she had been someone who had just “lost her way in life, found a very wrong path” — when confronted with the AK-47 picture. Shakil admitted to knowing of Isis atrocities before she left for Syria.
The British Muslim woman said, “I was aware of the violence that had taken place at the hands of Isis. I can’t lie and say that I didn’t because it was everywhere.”
Being aware of horrific things that were happening in that place and still deciding to run away, not just on your own, with your child I understand that is hard for people to understand. And to just say you didn’t pay much attention to it, but that’s what it was — I just, I didn’t,” she said.
Further, the British Muslim woman went on to say that her decision to take her toddler son to join a terrorist organisation is not something she is happy about. However, she said that “at the time the only thing I can say is that I was far from the best version of myself”. It is to mention that Shakil, who remains the only woman in British to have been imprisoned for joining ISIS, now lives in Birmingham, UK. She has served less than half of her six-year sentence and has undergone a deradicalisation programme as well.
During her 2016 trial, Judge Melbourne Inman had said that Shakil had “embraced” the Islamic State group and was “willing to become a martyr”. It was believed that she wed an IS fighter in Syria, however, the marriage had quickly turned sour. When asked what she thinks of ISIS bride Shamima Begum, who has been stripped of British citizenship and languishes in a Syrian camp, Shakil said, “I can’t say, Don’t bring them back that makes me a hypocrite because I’ve been in a very similar situation.”
“It’s not the same situation because I escaped. There may be reasons these people didn’t escape. It’s not easy to escape from there it’s life and death, not everybody has it in them,” she added.