First UK woman jailed for joining ISIS says she had ‘nowhere else to turn’

Tareena Shakil served three years of a six year prison sentence

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In her first television interview, Tareena Shakil has explained why she joined the Islamic State, and the despair she felt after she realised she’d made the biggest mistake of her life.

Speaking exclusively to Dan Wootton on GB News, Ms Shakil opened up about her journey, giving advice to ISIS Bride Shamima Begum and to other people who may consider joining ISIS.

Tareena, dubbed the Towie Jihadi after her love of the reality TV show The Only Way is Essex, was sentenced to six years in prison in 2016, but only served three years.

Tareena Shakil told Dan Wootton years of being in an abusive marriage led her to runaway to join ISIS
Tareena Shakil told Dan Wootton years of being in an abusive marriage led her to runaway to join ISIS

“At the time when I decided to run away, yes I was living in a great country and had a supportive family but the life I was living at that time, in my marriage a lot of domestic violence, really unhappy, unfortunately years of that had built up to me feeling like there was nothing else for me to do. I had nowhere else to turn, nowhere else to go.

“A supportive family when you’re speaking to people online and being groomed – you’re isolated from your family.”

Tareena said people in Syria contacted her, and led her to believe that she had to live there “otherwise you’d go to Hell if you stay in a country that isn’t a Muslim country. It felt like it was your obligation.”

Dan Wootton speaking to Tareena Shakil
Dan Wootton speaking to Tareena Shakil

She told Dan she was never involved in any violence whilst a member of ISIS in Syria, and talks about realising she had made the biggest mistake of her life. “Despair. Feeling that I would never be able to come back, and even if I did is there any point in going back anyway? I’m in a lot of trouble when I go home. I’m going to go home. They’re going to take my child away from me.

“It came to the point where the need and the want to go home became greater than thinking about what would happen to me upon my return. At that moment it was despair.”

Asked about her feelings about ISIS Bride Shamima Begum and if she deserves a second chance, Ms Shakil said “she can’t fiercly advocate” for her return, but “if she truly is like ‘I made a mistake send me to prison’ then I guess so”, adding that she is “all for redemption.

“I don't think that anybody that's out there that wants to come home realises just how long of a journey it is ahead.”

Dan Wootton Tonight is live on GB News every Monday to Thursday from 9pm.