“You saw me as a poor oppressed Muslim woman. I am an engineer. I am a jihadi.”
That shocking line of dialogue in the finale of BBC’s Bodyguard had 10 million viewers gasping.
The petrified wife of an Islamist terrorist had won the pity and trust of Afghan veteran Sergeant David Budd as he helped defuse her suicide vest on a commuter train.
But now, seemingly meek Nadia was revealing herself as the bomb-making mastermind.
And that plot twist made us challenge our preconceptions about “brainwashed jihadi brides”.
What if they weren’t victims? What if some didn’t need coercing into populating the caliphate or killing for it?
Those questions resurfaced this week when pregnant Shamima Begum, 19, said she wanted to return to Britain.
Begum left Bethnal Green four years ago for Syria.
She married an Isis fighter, lived with barbaric monsters, wasn’t fazed by a severed head in her dustbin and seems utterly without remorse.
But her parents insist their girl was groomed and, as she’s lost two children of her own, she and her unborn baby need rescuing. Maybe they’re right. Perhaps she is a victim.
But what if she’s as dangerous as the fictional Nadia?
Do we risk bringing her home for deradicalisation? Do we guard her at great cost while deciding whether to prosecute – as the far right stir up fury?
What about the hundreds of other fleeing British jihadis and brides wanting to get back to the “home” they betrayed?
Shamima Begum can’t possibly be allowed back into Britain, can she?
I keep thinking about the first episode of Bodyguard when Sergeant Budd looked into the eyes of the terrified woman about to blow herself up.
He made a human connection.
He talked her down. He helped her step off the path to hell and saved countless lives. And millions of viewers felt a bit sorry for brainwashed Nadia but still wanted her jailed to atone for her crime.
Because that’s what makes us better than barbaric jihadis. So maybe we should bring Shamima Begum home and challenge her shocking dialogue.
It might help us plot a better ending for all the real jihadi brides.
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