The jihadi bride story has got right under my skin. In spite of my best attempts to ignore the media’s best attempts to manipulate a human interest story into a level 1 threat to our national security, I have been manipulated. I care about the fate of this random nineteen year old kid.
In my defense, I’ve always been prone to a hard luck story and losing two babies seems like the hardest of luck. Speaking of hard, I’ve seen the live Time’s interview and she comes across as harder than Grant Mitchell after someone’s insulted his Mother. She’s all like ‘severed heads in bins don’t faze me’, which by any measure of normal thinking is deviant in the extreme.
Still, I can’t help thinking that the circumstances she finds herself in are extra-ordinary and difficult to view from a rational lens. Take her teenage rebellion. She didn’t drink herself into a near coma and make poor choices about intimate relationships, as is the British rite of passage. Instead, she headed off to a foreign land and joined this century’s most notorious terrorist organisation.
I have no idea why she would do this when she could have smoked weed at the back of the school sheds. Maybe all the grass dealers in the optimistically named Bethnal Green were rubbish, or deeply moral and didn’t want to sell to a fifteen year old? Fifteen. It’s terribly young, which is why we don’t let children this young drink, vote or have sex. Hell! We don’t even let them join the army. In fact, we wouldn’t have let Shamima Begum run away, if we could have stopped her.
That’s her name, by the way – Shamima Begum. She wasn’t always a jihadi bride. She was once just a fool hearty kid who bought into a seriously deranged ideology.
But, I’m probably missing the point. Whatever she was then, she is now unrepentant. She wants to come back and she’s not even sorry. There could be many reasons for this, the most obvious being – she’s completely f***ing nuts. In the few years since she left home, she’s had two babies die. Her third pregnancy is the motivating factor in her desire to return to Britain. Between all the bairn’s deaths and her husband’s arrest and the bombing of her close friend and travelling companion, maybe she was too mentally and emotionally weak to de-radicalise herself and sound sane? Maybe the papers who have shamelessly exploited her grief and fear weren’t too hung up on the ethics of their journalism? Desperate for a sound bite, they were careful not to fill in too many blanks or to paint too much context. And the woman with a casual indifference to severed heads becomes front page news.
And now, she’s no longer British, and that will teach her not to join the most high profile terrorist organisation of the twenty first century. And still, I can’t help thinking that losing two babies will have taught her a lot and the chance to love this new born will teach her more. Perhaps if we could get her home and de-radicalise her, she could even teach us something…