The first British woman to be convicted of joining Islamic State has suggested Shamima Begum should not be allowed to return to the UK, because she only tried to come home after the brutal terror group had collapsed.
Tareena Shakil, 32, from Birmingham, travelled to Syria in 2014 with her young son in order to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
But after spending several months living under the murderous regime, she became disillusioned and escaped.
She was arrested when she landed at Heathrow Airport in 2015 and was later jailed for six years for being a member of Isil and encouraging acts of terror on social media.
Tareena Shakil, pictured, was the first British woman to be found guilty of joining Islamic State
Credit: West Midlands Police/PA
In her first interview since being released from prison, Shakil said she regretted her actions, but added: "I was far from the best version of myself."
Asked what should happen to other British Isil volunteers, such as Shamima Begum, who is now appealing to return to the UK, Shakil expressed reservations about allowing her to do so.
Speaking on an ITV documentary, Tareena: Return from ISIS, she said: "I can’t sit here and say – no don’t bring them back – because that makes me a hypocrite, because I’ve been in a very similar situation."
But she added: "It’s not the same situation because I escaped, chose to leave when ISIS were at their peak, as opposed to waiting for the fall of ISIS and then saying: I want to come home."
Shakil went on: "Having said that, there may be reasons that these people didn’t escape from there. I know that. It takes strength, it takes courage, like it’s life and death, not everybody has it in them to go for that."
Begum, who left the UK aged 15 and joined Isil, married a jihadist fighter and had three children, all of whom died.
She is currently being held in a detention centre in north east Syria and is challenging the Government’s decision to revoke her British citizenship .
Shakil and Begum are among around 900 British nationals who travelled to Syria to join or fight for Isil, including dozens of so-called "Jihadi brides".
‘I was aware of ISIS violence’
Shakil admitted she had been aware of the brutal executions being carried out by Isil fighters before she decided to travel there with her one-year-old son and acknowledges she made a terrible mistake.
"I was aware of violence that had taken place at the hands of ISIS, you know I can’t lie and say that I didn’t because it was everywhere," she said.
"Being aware of horrific things that were happening in that place and still deciding to run away, not just on your own, with your child.
"It’s not something that I’m happy about now looking back, but at the time the only thing I can say is that you know, I was far from the best version of myself," she added.
An image showing a burkha-clad woman posing with an AK47 assault rifle, recovered from a phone allegedly used by Tareena Shakil
Credit: West Midlands Police/PA
Shakil admitted that her relationship with her son has been difficult but has said she hopes it will improve in the future.
"I came home and I was seeing him in a contact centre and he really didn’t want anything to do with me.
"I would kiss him, he’d wipe the kiss off. He’d ask: when am I going home?
"We’ve gone from that to a really good relationship, to the point where he tells me he loves me, he asks me if I can go and see him every day."
Tareena: Return From ISIS is now available via the ITV Hub.