Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj
Years after joining the Islamic State, 27-year-old Dutch national Yago Riedijk talks about the terror group, its propaganda and his life in Baghouz, Syria.
Riedijk says he joined ISIS to help Syrians, adding that most of the people came there to help, but to their surprise it was just “propaganda.”
Riedijk says he had mostly worked as a welder with the extremist group, and took part in only one battle. He narrated how he had once been tortured after the extremists suspected him of being a spy for the Dutch government.
“Four months after I arrived, I was imprisoned on the charges of being a spy for the Dutch government. I was tortured, and eventually released, luckily... I did not have any direct involvement in either propaganda or attacks of hurting or harming people.”Yago Riedijk, Former ISIS Member
In Raqqa, Riedijk married Shamima Begum, a UK schoolgirl who had fled the country to join the Islamic State group in Syria. The Dutchman says both of them had fallen “into the trap” of the extremist group's “brainwashing”.
Shamima a ‘Young, Naive Girl’ When She Fled UK
Begum fled east London with two other friends in 2015, at a time when the group's online recruitment programme lured many impressionable young people to its self-proclaimed caliphate.
Begum eventually fled the Islamic State and recently resurfaced at a Syrian refugee camp. She wishes to return home with the couple’s newborn baby.
Speaking at a Kurdish-run detention centre in north-eastern Syria on Saturday, 2 March, her husband says that UK’s decision to revoke Begum’s citizenship “saddened” him. He insisted that Begum was not dangerous.
Riedijk told UK broadcaster SKY that his wife, Shamima Begum, had been a "young naive girl" when she had fled the UK to travel to Syria.
“Basically, she had nothing to do with the Islamic State. She’d never have any direct contact, besides her friends, with anybody working for the Islamic State, besides me. She’s a young girl, young naive girl who just like most of them, they fell into the trap of believing their media and their propaganda.”Yago Riedijk, Former ISIS Member
Yago Explains Why They 'Had to Support' ISIS
Riedijk recollects how he and his wife had to support ISIS.
“Basically, if you have a negative attitude against... towards the Islamic State, it’s a very dangerous thing. They will consider you a rebel. They will arrest you. They will probably torture you. Might even kill you.”Yago Riedijk, Former ISIS Member
He speaks about the time spent with his wife and children in Baghouz, the last pocket of Syria being held by ISIS, and says that two of their children died of starvation.
After years of torture and chaos in the war battered land, Yago wants the Netherlands government to allow him and his family back home.
The question is: will the Netherlands government accept the couple and their newborn after UK’s rejection?
(With inputs from AP)