Shamima Begum, the former London schoolgirl who left the UK at age 15 to travel to Syria to marry a jihad soldier has been pictured ostensibly queuing at a refugee camp ‘bank’, according to the Daily Mail.
The denaturalised British-born woman was spotted with a group of women gathered outside a possible "hawala". An obscure window in a concrete wall was suggested by the outlet to be a discreet money exchange for women held in the camp.
Shamima Begum uses refugee camp ‘bank’ paying out ‘illegal’ cash from supporterspic.twitter.com/LcTQevGrha— Hardly News (@Hardly26375072) April 5, 2021
A woman contacted by the outlet’s reporter had pointed to the window, saying, “They give me 300 [dollars].”
When questioned further as to who had provided the money, she replied, “My family... in France.”
The so-called ‘bank’ was believed to be operating openly, with Kurdish guards unruffled by the crowd of women reportedly receiving payments.
The “hawala” transfer system allows family and supporters in the West to allegedly hand over money to a local agent. The latter is believed to subsequently contact a colleague in the Al-Roj camp in Northern Syria.
The ‘contact’ is the one who is believed to finally hand the money over to a woman living at the camp.
Money is ostensibly sent to women in the camps so they can pay people smugglers to free them, with authorities seeking to curb smuggling by ordering the ‘bankers’ to limit withdrawals to $300.
When spotted by the outlet’s reporter, Begum quickly walked away, reportedly refusing to answer questions.
Two other British ‘jihadi brides’ in the camp were also reported to have claimed they received money from relatives in the UK.
Outfitted in Western garb that included a purple jacket, black leggings, a black Nike baseball cap and sunglasses, the woman, who once voiced “no regrets about joining Islamic State” was not actually seen handling money. Nevertheless, her appearance at the alleged “hawala” has triggered speculation she might have been sent funds by relatives or supporters.
The hawala system, that avoids any paper trail, is suspected by Western security services of being used to fund terrorist groups.
Sending money to those who have joined or aligned themselves with a proscribed organisation such as Daesh is an offence under the UK Terrorism Act, potentially punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
Schoolgirl Turned ‘Daesh Bride’
Begum, born to Bangladeshi parents, left her home in Bethnal Green, East London, together with two other teenage girls.
She travelled to Syria through Turkey to join the Daesh* (ISIS) terrorist organisation in 2015, and was subsequently married to a Dutch-born jihad soldier. The three children she gave birth to in Syria reportedly died.
Begum was found by journalists in a Syrian camp in February 2019, dressed in a hijab and initially voicing support for Daesh. The young woman aknowledged that when she saw her first severed head, “it didn’t faze me at all.” She has since claimed to have disowned the terror group.
Shown recently in The Return: Life After ISIS, a documentary focusing on Begum and aired at the online Texas-based South By Southwest festival in March, Begum appealed to the British public to give her a “second chance”.
Shamima Begum and Hoda Muthana made it into worldwide headlines when they left their countries as teenagers to join ISIS. Now they want to return, but their countries don’t want them back.— MetFilm Sales (@MetFilm_Sales) March 17, 2021
THE RETURN: LIFE AFTER ISIS - World Premiere at @sxsw TODAY: https://t.co/HMRe4wZBGx pic.twitter.com/VmejFk9H8z
Seen later at the camp having straightened her hair and abandoned traditional Islamic garb for jeans, hoodie, and a Nike baseball cap, Begum is waiting as her lawyers challenge the decision to strip her of her British citizenship.
In 2019, Britain's then Home Secretary Sajid Javid revoked her citizenship on national security grounds. Last year, the UK Court of Appeal ruled that Begum should be allowed to return to the UK, but the Home Office subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court.
The former ‘Daesh bride’ has been at the Kurdish-run al-Roj formal internally-displaced person (IDP) and refugee camp in Al-Hasakeh governorate, northeastern Syria, for around two years now.
* Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/“Islamic State”) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia and other nations