Shamima Begum’s mother-in-law has called for the runaway ISIS bride to be allowed back into the UK so she can rebuild her life.
Speaking for the first time, Ankie Riedijk, the mother of Begum’s jihadist husband Yago, insisted that while they should both face justice for travelling to Syria to join ISIS their governments must take responsibility for them becoming radicalised.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, she said: ‘I am convinced that Shamima should be allowed to go home and build her life there.’
In the first interview she has given since, like Begum, her Muslim convert son absconded to Syria – Mrs Riedijk set out what she thinks should happen to the daughter-in-law she has never met.
Standing on the doorstep of her smart, £180,000 end-of-terrace home in Arnhem, a quiet town in The Netherlands, Mrs Riedijk said that she and her husband Lex, a railway engineer, had always hitherto been reluctant to be drawn into the furore regarding Begum’s future.
Shamima Begum’s mother-in-law has called for the runaway ISIS bride to be allowed back into the UK where she should allowed to rebuild her life
Ankie Riedijk, pictured at the door of her home in Arnhem, Holland, whose son was Yago Riedijk, the husband of Shamima Begum, said her daughter-in-law should be allowed to return to the UK
Yago Riedijk was a 21-year-old ISIS fighter when he wed the 15-year-old Londoner in Raqqa after they had spent 10 minutes speaking to ‘see if we clicked’
Her daughter-in-law has been stripped of her British citizenship and is banned from returning to the UK where she was born.
However Mrs Riedijk believes Shamima, and her son Yago, should be brought back to her home country where they should be judged for their actions, effectively stateless without a passport and living in a refugee camp in Syria.
She was reluctant to go into detail, but Mrs Reidijk seemed the suggest that governments need to take responsibility for their own radicalised young citizens rather than leave them in a stateless limbo.
For the respectable mother-of-two, whose son, a Muslim convert, left the family home for Syria aged 21, it has been a shaming experience that has thrust her middle-class family into the global spotlight.
She says she wasn’t even told about her son’s latest interview about his jihadi bride – but felt compelled to speak after the latest BBC documentary broadcast this week.
Mrs Riedijk said: ‘From the beginning we have tried not to get involved in any kind of publicity.
Begum has made several highly publicised bids to return to the UK and restore her reputation
‘But we were warned that Yago had given an interview about Shamima.
‘We were very grateful about his because we did not know anything about it.’
Mrs Riedijk, who has a younger daughter studying at university, has the appearance of a woman still coming to terms with what has happened to her family.
Neighbours in the suburb described the Reidijks as a ‘lovely family’ but were aware that Yago had gone to fight in Syria.
He was reported to have become radicalised while watching videos of atrocities in Syria.
He was placed on a terrorist watch list by the Dutch government in March 2016 and had his bank accounts frozen.
Last year police in the Netherlands said that he had married a British woman who had given birth to his child.
In 2015, Begum (centre), then 15, and her school friends Kadiza Sultana (left), also 15, and Amira Abase (right), 16, fled their east London homes to join Islamic State. Her two companions are believed to have died there
Last summer he was convicted in his absence of membership of a terrorist organisation, which usually results in a six-year jail sentence. Prosecutors said police had recovered a photograph on Reidijk’s family computer of him carrying a weapon that appeared to be a Kalashnikov.
While in Syria he sent a photograph home showing him in military uniform, describing himself as a soldier and asking for money.
Meanwhile is wife Shamima was just 15 when she disappeared from her home in Bethnal Green, east London, with two friends in February 2015.
Together with Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana, she took a flight to Turkey after watching ISIS propaganda video online.
The trio were captured on CCTV at a bus station in Istanbul where they met up with a member of ISIS who later smuggled them across the border to Syria. Shamima and the other girls had agreed to become ‘jihadi brides’ for Islamic State fighters.
Ten days after arriving in the so-called Caliphate Shamima married Yago.
The pair spent just ten minutes together ‘to see if they clicked’ before they decided to wed.
Riedijk told how Begum gave him a ‘weird’ list of questions and requests, including being able to visit friends, before agreeing to marry. The Dutchman revealed how he took the schoolgirl to a park in Raqqa for ice cream after they were married by an ISIS judge.
He said that at first she was ‘clueless’ about how to be a wife but later ‘learned how married life worked’ and the importance of ‘respect, pleasing her husband and obedience’.
Riedijk said: ‘I just wanted a partner who I could find some rest with and who could take care of me. I asked her if she knew how to cook and she said yes.
‘Our meeting was ten minutes max. We decided we wanted to try it. We don’t have such a thing as dating or going out and having a meal together.’
Begum has told how she recalled feeling ‘shy’ and ‘scared’ at their initial meeting.
She added: ‘It was exciting for me because I’d never been in a relationship. My entire life I’d been surrounded by women so being with a man was a new concept for me.’
The couple went on to have three children. But two died of disease or malnutrition and the third, born after Begum was captured by Western-backed Kurdish forces, died of pneumonia in the prison camp in northern Syria where she is being held.
The east London schoolgirl was discovered in a Kurdish-run ISIS detention camp in 2019, four years after she disappeared.
Interviews that Begum gave to British journalists about her life under ISIS caused outrage.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid then decided to take the highly unusual step to strip her of her British nationality, on national security grounds.
Begum, now 23, accepts that she broke anti-terror laws by joining ISIS.
She is challenging the Home Office decision and is in a legal battle with the British government to have her citizenship restored so she can return to London.
Her lawyers told an appeal there is ‘overwhelming’ evidence that she was groomed and trafficked by ISIS for the purpose of ‘sexual exploitation and marriage to an adult male’.
They claim ISIS deliberately recruited underage girls for sexual exploitation and child marriage because they were needed for the ‘bearing of children, which was an important feature of its state-building project’.
Riedijk, now 29, was tried in the Netherlands for terrorist offences and sentenced to six years in his absence. He is also being held in detention in northern Syria after he was captured by Kurdish forces.