Teenager who fled UK to join Isis has given birth, says family

Shamima Begum says she is desperate to come back to UK but home secretary says he will block return

Renu Begum, sister of Shamima Begum, holds a photo of her sister as she made an appeal in 2015 for her to return home. Photograph: Laura Lean/Reuters

Renu Begum, sister of Shamima Begum, holds a photo of her sister as she made an appeal in 2015 for her to return home. Photograph: Laura Lean/Reuters

 

The family of an east London teenager who travelled to Syria to join Islamic State when she was 15 have said they have been told she has given birth to a boy.

Shamima Begum (19), who left the UK with two school friends in 2015, spoke to the London Times earlier this week from the al-Hawl refugee camp in northeastern Syria. She was heavily pregnant and said she was desperate to come back to the UK.

A statement from her family, released on Sunday 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.”

Akunjee said the family had been told Begum gave birth on Saturday to a boy and that mother and son were doing well.

He said the news of the birth changed the dynamics of the arguments and added pressure on the government to let Begum, and now her child, back.

“We are now dealing with an innocent baby who we would like to get out of the camp and back to the UK,” he 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 married Yago Riedijk ( 27) a Dutch convert to Islam, 10 days after arriving in the city of Raqqa in 2015. She had two children, both of whom died. She told the Times she wanted to return home to protect the health of her new baby.

Her family have called on the British government to allow her to return to the UK so her child can be cared for in “peace and security”. But the home secretary, Sajid Javid, said he would not hesitate to block her return.

“My message is clear: if you have supported terrorist organisations abroad I will not hesitate to prevent your return,” he said. “If you do manage to return you should be ready to be questioned, investigated and potentially prosecuted.”

In a statement issued on Friday, the family said her apparent lack of regret for joining Islamic State, also known as Isis should be seen as the “words of a girl who was groomed at the age of 15”.

“Now we are faced with the situation of knowing that Shamima’s young children have died - children we will never come to know as a family. This is the hardest of news to bear,” the statement read.

“The welfare of Shamima’s unborn child is of paramount concern to our family, and we will do everything within our power to protect that baby who is entirely blameless in these events.”–Guardian