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British teen who joined ISIS but wished to return has UK citizenship revoked by government

The family of Shamima Begum have said they are disappointed with the Home Office’s decision.

Image: Met Police/PA Images

A BRITISH TEENAGER who joined the Islamic State has had her citizenship revoked by the UK government.

Shamima Begum (19), who ran away from London with two school friends in 2015, will now not be able to return to the UK, according to the letter obtained by ITV News.

Last week, Begum said that she expressed no regrets about joining the jihadists but said that two of her children were dead and that she was heavily pregnant.

She subsequently indicated her desire to return to the UK, following the birth of her baby boy.

The letter from the UK Home Office to Begum’s mother says: “Please find enclosed papers that relate to a decision taken by the Home Secretary, to deprive your daughter, Shamima Begum, of her British citizenship.

In light of the circumstances of your daughter, the notice of the Home Secretary’s decision has been served of file today (19 February), and the order removing her British citizenship has subsequently been made.

The family’s lawyer Tasnime Akunjee responded in a statement: “Family are very disappointed with the Home Office’s intention to have an order made depriving Shamima of her citizenship. We are considering all legal avenues to challenge this decision.”

Wish to return

A statement from her family last week, released on Twitter by the lawyer 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 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.”

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.

With reporting from AFP

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Sean Murray

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