23 Feb 2019
Two countries, two women: Can ISIS brides return home?
Written byShalini Ojha ·
In more ways than one, the lives of British citizen Shamima Begum and Hoda Muthana, who hails from the United States have come to the same crossroads.
Both women, who left their respective countries to join ISIS in the Middle East, want to return home.
But will their countries welcome them? Probably not.
As global media dissects all possibilities, let's explain to you the series of events.
ISIS may have reached its final stage
The heinousness of ISIS is well known. The terrorist outfit, which has been responsible for most of the notorious attacks on humanity across the world, is fighting its last battle in Iraq and Syria.
Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) tasked with rooting out caliphate registered huge victories in last couple of years.
ISIS lost its control over Raqqa, Mosul, and other important territories.
ISIS' fall brought survivors along
As the long battle with ISIS is entering its final stages, the international community faces another problem: the return of survivors.
The outfit managed to stay relevant for all these years because of its recruitment. Over 700 Britishers and nearly 300 Americans fled their countries to join ISIS.
While gunbattles and airstrikes killed many, some escaped and are now looking to start over.
London schoolgirl who joined ISIS wants to return home
One of them who wants to restart her life is Shamima Begum, who was a school student when she left London to join ISIS with two of her friends.
Begum, now 19, lost her husband, who was a Dutch national, and her two kids to violence.
She gave birth to her third child, a son, recently and wants Britain to take her back.
A journalist found Begum at a refugee camp
Begum, who joined ISIS in 2015, returned to news a couple of days ago when a journalist found her in a Syrian refugee camp after she fled Baghuz, the outfit's last stronghold.
Speaking with the journalist, Begum said she has changed and isn't the same girl who ran away.
Notably, while making case for her return, Begum said she didn't regret joining ISIS.
Begum revealed why she joined ISIS
Soon many media houses interviewed Begum to get answers to many questions.
For starters, why had she joined ISIS? Begum said the lifestyle they portrayed in videos convinced her.
Did she witness beheading ever? No, she replied. But she once found a severed head in the bin.
Why did she escape ISIS? Begum said she was miffed with the corruption and power structure.
However, Begum didn't regret joining the outfit
While the aforementioned questions gave an insight into Begum's mind, the fact that she wasn't remorseful miffed many.
When asked to speak on the 2017 Manchester arena terror attack, Begum compared it with deaths of women and children in Baghuz.
"It's kind of retaliation. Their justification was that it was retaliation so I thought, okay, that is a fair justification," she told BBC.
Like Begum, another woman left US for ISIS
While Begum showed fewer signs of regret, another ISIS bride Hoda Muthana said she regretted her decision.
Muthana, now 24, left the US four years ago to join ISIS. Muthana lost two of her husbands, both ISIS fighters to the war. She is now a mother of an 18-month-old son.
In her interactions with media, Muthana claimed she misunderstood Islam and was brainwashed.
Muthana supported spilling American blood, regrets it now
Muthana, the youngest of five kids, said she lacked attention from her religious parents. In absence of a bond, Muthana sought for friendship in the dark corners of the internet and ended up joining ISIS.
In one of her tweets, Muthana even called for "spilling American blood."
But the bloodshed changed her, Muthana claimed. Muthana and her son had a close shave, and now she yearns for a better life, far from the deserts and violence.
But UK and US won't "allow" their returns
Despite being an ocean apart, Begum and Muthana are facing the same battle. And the reactions to their pleas from their countries have been similar as well.
Britain showed an intention to revoke Begum's citizenship and Donald Trump, US' President, in a tweet announced Muthana will not be allowed to set foot in the country.
The brides' lawyers are now considering all legal options.
Begum wants politicians to show mercy, Muthana's father filed case
Begum's family is contemplating legal option and she pleaded to British politicians to show her some mercy. She said, "I would like them to re-evaluate my case with a bit more mercy in their heart, you know."
Meanwhile, Mathuna's father Ahmed Ali Muthana filed a lawsuit against the government's action to revoke his daughter's citizenship.
The legal battles will, of course, last long.
What will happen if they manage to return?
If the UK agrees to Begum's demands, it will be long before she actually returns home.
The country will charge her with terrorism, though finding proofs that she was directly involved in any activities would be difficult. She could be sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Likewise, Muthana could also face serious charges but Trump's tweet indicated she might not see a courtroom soon.
None of the countries can ignore the brides' pleas
While security concerns are understandable, none of the countries can go on with normalcy by stripping the brides' of their citizenship.
De-radicalization needs enough thought and in its absence the nations might be laying roots for another conflict.
The women, children, and survivors of the fallen caliphate are screaming for attention and turning a deaf ear to them could prove expensive.