Shamima Begum was one of three 15-year-old schoolgirls, along with friends Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase, who snuck out of the United Kingdom in February 2015 to become jihadi brides in Syria. Ms. Begum then married a young Dutch IS fighter, Yago Riedijk, three weeks after she arrived in the country, and her first two babies died of illness. She resurfaced heavily pregnant at a Syrian refugee camp last week and has since given birth to a baby boy. Ms. Begum asked to return to the UK and was denied by the Home Office. The case has prompted debate over how Britain manages returning or those attempting to return from Syria and ISIS. While many do not want to see Ms. Begum return to the UK, others have argued she should face prosecution for her actions and attempts at deradicalization.
Interviewed by the UK’s Sky News, the now 19-year-old Ms. Begum said, "a lot of people should have sympathy" for her as she spoke of her wish to return to the UK. She said the UK authorities had no evidence of her "doing anything dangerous", in response to concerns she could pose a security threat and claimed she was "just a housewife" during her four years in the terrorist caliphate in Syria, where she married. When asked about beheadings and executions she replied that she was "okay with it" because she had heard "Islamically that is allowed". Ms. Begum revealed she had been radicalised by watching videos on the internet shortly before leaving Britain.
Ms. Begum, who was born in the UK, had her British citizenship revoked by the Home Office, whereas the British Nationality Act 1981 provides the Home Secretary with the power to strip people of citizenship if it is "conducive to the public good". Asked about the situation in an interview, Minister Sajid Javid said. "I'm not going to talk about an individual, but I can be clear on the point that I would not take a decision and I believe none of my predecessors ever have taken a decision that at the point the decision is taken would leave that individual stateless." He also suggested to the Commons that action to bar her from returning will not impact her son's rights. "If a parent does lose their British citizenship, it does not affect the rights of their child," he said. It was initially speculated that Ms. Begum, who is of Bangladeshi heritage, may have held dual citizenship there but Bangladesh's Minister of state for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam denied this.
Ms. Begum’s family, who wrote to the Home Secretary asking for his help to bring her newborn son to Britain say they will consider "all legal avenues to challenge this decision" and Ms. Begum said she may attempt to travel with her terrorist husband, who is currently imprisoned, to his home country of Holland to claim citizenship there. The family’s letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the baby boy was a "true innocent" who should not "lose the privilege of being raised in the safety of this country". The family said they have had no contact with Ms. Begum and had only learned she had given birth to a boy through media reports, of which they made clear that they were "shocked and appalled" at the "vile comments" Ms. Begum had made. The letter also shows the family was aware of her radicalisation, as they had made "every fathomable effort" to block her from entering IS territory. "That year we lost Shamima to a murderous and misogynistic cult," her sister wrote, “My sister has been in their thrall now for four years, and it is clear to me that her exploitation at their hands has fundamentally damaged her."