The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has been accused of giving terrorists a platform following the release of a new 10-part podcast with former British national Shamima Begum.
Begum fled the U.K. in 2015 with two other schoolgirls to join the Islamic State death cult in Syria and, following its demise, sought to return to Britain to face terror charges. Her citizenship was revoked by then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid, a decision that was upheld on appeal to Britain’s top court in February 2021.
A key factor in the decision to strip Begum of her British citizenship was the fact that she held dual citizenship with Bangladesh, meaning she would not be made stateless by the action taken by the U.K. Home Office.
The decision sparked outrage among the British left, who argued Begum, to quote Labour’s former shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, was a “desperate groomed teenager” and there were “plenty of good reasons” to allow her to “return home.”
At the time of the revocation of Begum’s citizenship, Sajid Javid told the House of Commons the decision was “morally right, absolutely right, but also legally correct and the right one to protect the British people.
“I won’t go into details of the case, but what I will say is that you certainly haven’t seen what I saw,” he told lawmakers, adding: “If you did know what I knew, because you are sensible, responsible people, you would have made exactly the same decision – of that I have no doubt.”
The vast majority of the British public have remained opposed to allowing Begum to return to Britain, with a YouGov poll conducted in November 2020 showing 70 percent of Brits were against her homecoming.
Since fleeing ISIS, Begum has resided at the al-Roj camp in northern Syria, run by the Syrian Democratic Forces. She has frequently been approached for interviews by major Western broadcasters where she has been able to tell her side of the story as to why she should not be deemed dangerous in the eyes of concerned Brits.
When asked in an interview with Sky News in 2019 if she was aware of beheadings conducted by IS, Begum replied: “Yeah, I knew about those things, and I was okay with it… From what I heard, Islamically that is allowed. So I was okay with it.”
The BBC is now promoting a 10-part podcast with the former ISIS bride, who married Dutch convert Yago Riedijk in an Islamic ceremony in Syria back in 2015. However, the broadcaster has come under fire from many on social media who accuse it of giving a platform to a known terrorist.
Wasiq Wasiq, a fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, tweeted: “While the victims of grooming gangs are still trying to be heard and get justice, Shamima Begum manages to land 10-part podcast on the BBC.
“Will the BBC dedicate this much time to them?” he asked.
The conservative Taxpayers’ Alliance campaign tweeted: “License fee cash should not be supporting this disgraceful PR exercise to spin the sob story of an Isis bride!”
“The BBC has used license fee payers’ money on giving terrorist Shamima Begum a podcast in which she says ‘I’m so much more than ISIS,'” commented the Defund the BBC campaign, which called on Brits to “switch to on-demand and stop paying this anti-British corporation.”
Terrorism and national security expert Kyle Orton slammed the BBC for the podcast with an “IS jihadist who celebrated the ‘caliphate’ and when she was found then switched her story to one of victimhood.”
“Enabling these people to become celebrities after what they have done is shameful,” he added.
Defending the series, the British public broadcaster claimed the podcast would provide a “full account” of “what really happened” during Begum’s escapades, insisting her account would not be “unchallenged” and calling the podcast a “robust, public interest investigation.”