British mum, 32, who ran to Syria to join ISIS with son says she ‘regrets every last thing’


Tareena Shakil, 32, fled Britain to join ISIS, taking her toddler son with her, but having escaped from the terror group and serving time in a British prison she says she ‘regrets every last thing’

Tareena Shakil booked flights to Turkey in 2014, and from there went to Syria to join ISIS
Tareena Shakil booked flights to Turkey in 2014, and from there went to Syria to join ISIS

A young mum who took her toddler son to Syria to join ISIS has said she “regrets every last thing” as she rebuilds her life back in the UK.

Former Jihadi bride Tareena Shakil, from Burton, booked flights to Turkey in 2014, telling her family she was going on a beach holiday, but once there she and her little boy were smuggled over the border.

Before leaving, Tareena had separated from her husband and started to search people on Facebook before reaching out to a man who turned out to be a “recruiter” for the terror group.

They began talking about religion and from there he convinced her to join the group.

She was jailed for six years and served half her sentence behind bars
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PA Media/West Midlands Police)

“He said: ‘Right now you and your son are hanging over the fire of Jahannam [hell] and you’re doing that to your son by choosing to stay there,'” Tareena said.

The 32-year-old former health care and Morrisons worker eventually returned home and was jailed for six years for joining ISIS and encouraging acts of terrorism.

“I regret every last thing in terms of my decision to run away to Syria with my child,” she has now told the BBC.

“I live with the consequences every day.”

Tareena posing with an AK47 while in Syria
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PA)

Tareena said de-radicalisation had been “a long journey”, but she hopes her story will serve as a warning about the “dangers of extremism”.

She said: “I remember feeling really sad, really bitter, really taken advantage of and duped.

“I remember feeling really ashamed of myself to some degree that I allowed it to happen.”

She previously told her story in an ITV documentary aired last month, explaining that “no-one understood” what she was living through and she “did what I had to do to survive” during the three months in Syria.

She previously told her story in an ITV documentary aired last month, explaining that “no-one understood” what she was living through
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Image:

Stephen Foote/An Uplands TV/ ACL Production/PA)

Since returning from ISIS, Tareena focuses on her life now, including a new job and home, after she served three years in prison.

After initially being banned from being within two miles of any airport and not allowed on certain roads in Birmingham, she now has her British passport again and no longer has an electronic tag.

The hour-long documentary revealed how she came to be in Syria, from her dropping out of university and her “unhappy” marriage.

“I used to say please God, take me away from this. I’m tired of living this misery. I’m tired of being so sad. I used to say please God just free me from this,” she said.

British runaway jihadi bride in ISIS balaclava holding AK47 and pistol
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Handout)

When she arrived in Syria, she called a contact given to her via Facebook exchanges with the ISIS fighter and was taken to an Islamic State safe house in the city.

Tareena said: “I remember saying to myself, ‘I can’t just go down and say, I want to go now because they’re not going to let me go now, I already know too much.'”

She was moved into a house with around 60 women for eight weeks, where she says they weren’t allowed phones nor allowed to leave unless for marriage.

During her stay, a photo emerged of her posing with an AK47 assault rifle and there were also photos of her toddler son posing in a balaclava.

A separate image showed the child posing next to an AK47.

During her stay, a photo emerged of her posing with an AK47 assault rifle
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Image:

Stephen Foote/An Uplands TV/ ACL Production/PA)

Cited in the Birmingham Crown Court trial as the most “abhorrent” photos, the judge rejected her account that another woman at the house took the photo.

She claimed there was a “lot of pressure” on her as coming from Britain, and she was naturally “subject to suspicion”.

“A couple of women were very vocal about being unhappy, those girls were taken and we never saw them again,” she told the documentary.

“Three or four men came and took them. You don’t want it to be you on that van. I could not put into words the pressures I felt.

“I did what I had to do to survive.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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