The husband of Shamima Begum, a British teenager of Bangladeshi descent who ran away in 2015 to become an Islamic State (IS) jihadi bride, has said that he wants her to return to the Netherlands with him.
Speaking to the BBC on Saturday night, Yago Riedijk, from Arnhem in the Netherlands, admitted fighting for the terror group but said that he now wanted to return home with his wife and their newborn son.
Riedijk, who is being held in a Kurdish detention centre in north-eastern Syria, married Begum days after she arrived inside IS territory in the war-torn country.
The 27-year-old faces a six-year jail term for joining a terror organisation if he returns to the Netherlands.
Describing how he met the schoolgirl from east London in the women’s centre in Raqqa, Riedijk told the BBC he was initially not interested because she was too young.
“To be honest, when my friend came and said there was a girl who was interested in marriage, I wasn’t that interested because of her age, but I accepted the offer anyway.”
Riedijk said that he was imprisoned in Raqqa and tortured after the extremists accused him of being a Dutch spy.
Begum, now aged 19, and Riedijk escaped from the town of Baghouz, the group’s last territory in eastern Syria, as the caliphate crumbled.
Riedijk surrendered to a group of Syrian fighters and Begum and their newborn son, Jarrah, ended up among 39,000 people in the al-Hawl refugee camp in northern Syria.
She has now reportedly gone elsewhere after threats were made against them.
The UK has revoked Begum’s citizenship on the grounds that she is eligible for citizenship of Bangladesh through her mother, who is a Bangladeshi citizen.
But Bangladesh has said that Begum was not a Bangladeshi citizen and that she will not be allowed into the country.
Although Riedijk is on a terrorism watch list, his Dutch citizenship still remains.