SHAMIMA Begum is making a conscious effort to appear “dereadicalised” as she bids for a return to the UK, a body language expert has said.
The 21-year-old jihadi bride fled Britain to join the bloodthirsty militant group in 2015 when she was 15 – and today appeared sporting a baseball cap and jeans in a new interview.
She is currently being held at Al-Roj prison camp in Syria after she was stripped of her UK citizenship, and insists she was just a “dumb kid” as she appeals for a return to Britain.
Body language expert Judi James gave The Sun Online her assessment of Begum as she said the former ISIS bride is attempting to change her image.
Begum first re-emerged after fleeing to the Syria in 2019 at al-Hawl refugee camp where she appeared wearing a hijab and showed little remorse.
Her latest appearance is a stark contrast to that as she wore jeans and a top, a Nike tick baseball cap, sported painted nails, and spoke about topics such as Friends and Kanye West.
“Everything here seems to be presenting Begum in a very different way, from her more westernized clothing to her body language and her style of speech,” Ms James told The Sun Online.
“She now walks with confidence and her gesticulation is emphatic. She wears a very casual t-shirt, jeans and a baseball cap and her speech has speeded up and now shows an ability to share humour and quick-fire responses.
“She shows she has been watching popular US TV programmes like Friends, even exchanging banter about whether she prefers Joey or Chandler.
“This all seems to project a desire to integrate if she is allowed to come back into the UK.”
Shamima was defeated in her legal battle to return to the UK for a court appeal over the removal of her British citizenship earlier this year.
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favour of the Government and said Shamima cannot come back to the UK for a court case to reclaim her British passport for the safety of the public.
Delivering the ruling, Lord Reed savaged a previous judgement by the Court of Appeal and said it had “made its own assessment of the requirements of [national] security” without any “relative evidence”.
However, it appears Shamima has not given up hope of returning home as she made a direct appeal to the UK in her latest interview – saying “pretty please” can she come back.
Ms James told The Sun Online: “We also now see a complete contrast in body language reveal. With this more sophisticated version of Begum we can see her body and her hand gestures but her mouth is covered by her face mask and her eyes hidden by the peak of her baseball cap.
“When she was nineteen it was her mouth and eye expressions that made a sympathetic response very hard.
“This time though we are unable to make body language evaluations from these very powerful cues.”
She went on: “Begum is now made to look sociable and comfortable, even confident enough to ‘lead’ the interview at times when she stops and turns to point out the home of her friend.
“Her walk looks relaxed and when she speaks she gesticulates with her hands raised expressively, suggesting she is now more comfortable being the centre of attention.”
Shamima insisted during the interview with journalist Andrew Drury that she does not need to be rehabilitated – but would like to help others with rehabilitation instead.
“I don’t think I was a terrorist. I think I was just a dumb kid who made one mistake,” she said.
Shamima went on: “I personally don’t think that I need to be rehabilitated, but I would want to help other people be rehabilitated. I would love to help.”
When asked what she would say to people who do not want her to return to the UK, she said: “Can I come home please, pretty please?”
And when asked about her new look, she explained: “I wear these clothes, and I don’t wear a hijab, because it makes me happy.
“And anything in this camp that makes me happy is like a lifesaver.”
Shamima said in the camp she enjoys listening to Kanye West’s music and followed the news of his divorce from Kim Kardashian – and she even watched re-runs of Friends.
She also recently spoke in a new documentary, The Return: Life After ISIS, claiming she and her friends were recruited online – saying she was “young and naive” when she joined the death cult.
The bride said recruiters preyed on the guilt they felt at seeing Muslims suffer in the Syrian conflict.
Shamima was one of three schoolgirls who fled to Syria from Bethnal Green in London, joined by her pals Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase.
They were among an estimated 550 women and girls who travelled from the West to join ISIS.
Kadiza is believed to have been killed in a Russian airstrike, while Amira’s fate remains unknown.
Shamima married Dutch jihadist Yago Riedijk and gave birth to three children while living with ISIS – but all of them died.
She is reported to have been an enforcer in ISIS’s so-called “morality police” who would force women to adhere to the strict dress codes.
And it has also been alleged that she once had a role stitching suicide bombers into explosive vests to the fighters could not escape them.
Despite appealing to return to the UK and dismissing her past, she has previously told journalists she supports the rape and murder of Yazidi sex slaves, and the Manchester Arena bombing was “fair justification” for air raids in Syria.
Human rights groups have argued against the decision to strip Begum of her citizenship and said she has the right to a fair trial, so should be allowed to come back to Britain.