London, February 17: Shamima Begum, who fled the United Kingdom to join terror outfit ISIS or Islamic State, has delivered a baby in Syria, her family said on Sunday. According to family lawyer Mohammed Akunjee, Shamima Begum gave birth to a baby boy. Begum, who had lost her two children in Syria, recently expressed her wish to return to the UK and said she wanted to raise her new baby in Britain.
"We, the family of Shamima Begum, have been informed that Shamima has given birth to her child," Akunjee said in a statement, released on Twitter. "We understand that both she and the baby are in good health. As yet we have not had direct contact with Shamima, we are hoping to establish communications with her soon so that we can verify the above," the lawyer added. Begum left the UK in 2015 when she was 15-year-old.
Earlier this week, Begum spoke to The Times and said had previously given birth to two other children, but both died during her time in Syria. She also told the newspaper that she wants to return home, the wish that has divided British opinion. Leading politicians, including interior minister Sajid Javid, have said to oppose her return as she expressed no regrets about joining the ISIS.
— Mohammed T Akunjee (@MohammedAkunjee) February 17, 2019
However, Akunjee on Sunday said Javid was “misunderstanding the law” and that Britain had a responsibility towards Begum and her newborn child. “A parent has responsibility and so does Britain,” he added. Her case has highlighted the challenge for Western governments of dealing with returning jihadist supporters.
The British government appeared divided on how to respond to demands from US President Donald Trump that European nations take back hundreds of Islamic State group fighters captured in Syria. Trump said late Saturday that the United States was asking Britain and other European allies “to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial.”
Britain’s Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright, a former attorney general — the country’s chief legal adviser — told the BBC Sunday that it was “obliged, at some stage at least, to take them back”. Noting it was “a matter of international law and domestic law”, he said: “It doesn’t mean either that we can’t seek to hold them to account for their behaviour thus far.”
However, writing in The Sunday Times — under the headline “if you run away to join ISIS, I will use all my power to stop you coming back” — Javid insisted the government should strip “dangerous individuals of their British citizenship”. (With agency inputs)