#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 11°C Wednesday 16 June 2021

British teenager who joined ISIS has given birth after expressing desire to return to the UK

Shamima Begum ran away from London to Syria in 2015 to join Islamic State.

Missing schoolgirls Shamima Begum Source: Laura Lean/PA Images

A BRITISH TEENAGER who joined the Islamic State group in Syria and who now wants to return to England has given birth to a baby boy, her family have said. 

Shamima Begum (19), who ran away from London with two school friends in 2015, said earlier this week that she expressed no regrets about joining the jihadists but said that two of her children were dead and that she was heavily pregnant.

A statement from her family, released on Twitter by their lawyer, Tasnime Akunjee, said: “We, the family of Shamima Begum, have been informed that Shamima has given birth to her child. 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 family have reportedly been told that Begum gave birth yesterday to a boy and that both were doing well.

The family have said that the birth strengthens the case to allow Begum back into the UK where, she has said, she wants “to come home and live quietly”. 

“We are now dealing with an innocent baby who we would like to get out of the camp and back to the UK,” Begum’s family said.

“We would like every effort made by the British government to get the baby back despite the words of the home secretary, which have been shown to be wrong by the justice secretary and the head of MI6 and experts in international law.”

‘No regrets’

Begum made headlines around the world when, aged just 15, she left to join the jihadists with friends from Bethnal Green in east London. Another girl from the same school had run away the year before.

One girl, Kadiza Sultana, has been reported killed.

Begum said the other two, Sharmeena Begum — no relation — and Amira Abase stayed on in Baghouz, where IS fighters are making their last stand to hold on to the proto-state they declared in 2014.

“They were strong. I respect their decision,” Begum said of her friends.

She added: “I’m not the same silly little 15-year-old schoolgirl who ran away from Bethnal Green four years ago. And I don’t regret coming here.”

The British authorities estimate around 900 Britons travelled to Syria and Iraq to join the conflict, of whom around 300-400 have since returned — and 40 have been prosecuted.

As of last month, around 200 were believed to still be alive and in the region.

Speaking to Sky News earlier this week, Security Minister Ben Wallace said it was “worrying” that Begum had not expressed regret about going to Syria.

He also noted the difficulties faced by many governments of how to deal with those returning from abroad.

“It is a challenge for all of us,” he told BBC radio.

“Some of them were groomed… when they were young but are now adults and some of them are hardened fighters.

“We have successfully prosecuted a number of them in the last few years when they have come back and the others should expect the same if they return.”

‘The caliphate is over’

Begum has said that her two previous children had died in the past three months — a daughter, Sarayah, became ill, and a son, Jerah, whose death was linked to malnutrition.

“In the end, I just could not endure any more,” she said of her desire to get out.

Begum fled with her husband, but he surrendered to a group of Syrian fighters allied to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

“The caliphate is over,” she said, adding that “there was so much oppression and corruption that I don’t think they deserved victory”.

She acknowledged her notoriety but said: “I’ll do anything required just to be able to come home and live quietly with my child.”

About the author:


Read next:


This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel