Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 June 2019

British ISIS member Shamima Begum has given birth, her family says

The then schoolgirl left London aged 15 to marry into the terrorist group

Renu Begum holds a picture of her sister Shamima Begum. AFP 
Renu Begum holds a picture of her sister Shamima Begum. AFP 

Europe must repatriate ISIS foreign fighters US President Donald Trump said on Sunday as the family of a British girl who fled to Syria and has asked to return gave birth.

Mr Trump urged European countries to take back their citizens accused of ISIS membership and warned the alternative, to release the roughly 800 foreign fighters, was "not a good one".

The girl, Shamima Begum, had two children which later died during her time living under the Caliphate, but has now given birth and is in good health, her family claim.

But a statement posted on Twitter by her family's lawyer said "we have not had direct contact with Shamima," adding in a separate message, "it's a boy."

In an interview with Sky News the 19-year-old pleaded for sympathy and to be allowed to return for the sake of her baby.

"I think a lot of people should have sympathy towards me for everything I have been through.

"I was hoping that maybe for the sake of me and my child they'd let me come back," she said.

"I can't live in this camp forever, it's not really possible," added Ms Begum as she shook her head.

She said the authorities did not have any evidence that she had done anything dangerous, describing herself as "just a housewife". Ms Begum did, however, admit she knew of the brutal tactics ISIS employed,

"I'm afraid he might even die in this camp. I feel a lot of people should have sympathy for me, for everything I've been through," she said.

"I didn't know what I was getting into when I left. I just was hoping that maybe for the sake of me and my child they let me come back," she added.

The teenager's story sparked a debate in the United Kingdom last week after it was first reported in London newspaper The Times.

Her family are asking for the teenager to return home to the UK, but British ministers have warned she could face prosecution. In previous interviews she has been unrepentant about joining the group and said she was not disturbed about finding severed heads in the bin.

Ms Begum was one of three girls who left Bethnal Green in London in 2015 to marry men in ISIS. Her Dutch husband is currently being detained by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the US and UK's anti-ISIS ground partner in Syria.

They have contained ISIS to a tiny patch of territory in Syria although the terrorist group's most hardened and committed fighters are said to be involved.

Mr Trump recently announced his intention to withdraw US troops from Syria, sparking fears the SDF would be unable to take look after the hundreds of foreign fighters in its prisons. So far, only France has said it is prepared to repatriate its citizens accused of being members of ISIS. There are estimated to be some 4,000 family members of the 800 foreign fighters held by the SDF.

"The Caliphate is ready to fall," he said in a Tweet. "The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them..."

"The US does not want to watch as these ISIS fighters permeate Europe ... We do so much, and spend so much – Time for others to step up and do the job that they are so capable of doing," he added.

"Time for others to step up and do the job that they are so capable of doing. We are pulling back after 100% Caliphate victory!"

Governments fear the return of foreign fighters could pose a security risk. Worries also persist that people such as Ms Begum could inflame and empower far-right groups.

Updated: February 17, 2019 09:12 PM

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