LONDON: The husband of Daesh bride Shamima Begum has insisted his marriage to the British schoolgirl was a happy one, the Daily Mail reported.
Yago Riedijk, who was 23 when he married Begum, then 15, said the couple enjoyed a good marriage in Syria, despite claims from Begum she was groomed and trafficked.
Begum left her east London home in February 2015 and married Dutch convert and Daesh soldier Riedijk days after arriving in Syria.
The couple had three children, all of whom died of disease or malnutrition.
Lawyers for Begum, who is appealing a British government decision to strip her of her citizenship, told the special immigration court there was “overwhelming” evidence she was groomed and trafficked by Daesh for the purpose of “sexual exploitation and marriage to an adult male.”
Nick Squires KC, a member of Begum’s legal team, told the Special Immigration Appeals Commission: “In doing so, she was following a well-known pattern by which ISIS (another term for the terror group) cynically recruited and groomed female children as young as 14 so that they could be offered as wives to adult men.”
However, Riedijk, who was speaking in an interview from prison in northern Syria, said the marriage was consensual and, initially at least, a happy one.
“Basically, I was looking for marriage and a friend of mine came to me and said ‘there’s a sister looking for marriage, are you interested?’ I took him up on his offer.
“We had a talk, we agreed on the conditions of marriage,” he said.
It was “not really something big or anything important, it was small things like going out shopping, things like this,” he added.
“Basically she asked for some freedoms, which I agreed to give her — going shopping, seeing her friends, very, very basic stuff. We agreed on a dowry — all she asked for was an English translation of the Quran, which I agreed to.”
Following Daesh’s ousting from the last of the territory it had seized across Syria and Iraq in March 2019, the British government said Begum was a risk and rescinded her citizenship.
MI5, the UK’s security service, concluded that Begum’s travel to Syria was voluntary and she had “demonstrated determination and commitment” to joining the terror group.
Female recruits to Daesh were likely to have been radicalized and were probably given military training to fight in defense of the group, it said in a statement.
“They were exposed to routine acts of extreme violence, which would be likely to have had the effect of desensitizing individuals, and encouraging them to view violent terrorist activity as an acceptable and legitimate course of action.
“(Daesh) was committed to perpetuating violence against those who it viewed as enemies of Islam, including the UK.”