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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 26 March 2019

British ISIS teen calls for mercy

Shamima Begum, 19, has been told Britain will revoke her citizenship

The case of ISIS member Shamima Begum has focused attention on the problem posed by returning foreign fighters and their families. EPA
The case of ISIS member Shamima Begum has focused attention on the problem posed by returning foreign fighters and their families. EPA

A London teenager who joined ISIS in Syria appealed to British authorities on Thursday to reconsider their decision to revoke her citizenship.

"I would like them to re-evaluate my case with a bit more mercy in their heart," Shamima Begum told Sky News from a refugee camp in eastern Syria.

Ms Begum was 15 when she ran away to join ISIS with two school friends from Bethnal Green in east London in 2015.

Now a 19-year-old mother, she has become a refugee after the group's "caliphate" collapsed.

Separated from her Dutch ISIS fighter husband, and after giving birth to a son in the camp last weekend, she now wants to go home.

Her family's lawyer, Tasnime Akunjee, is looking to challenge Britain's citizenship decision, which could leave Ms Begum stateless.

The Guardian newspaper reported that Mr Akunjee plans to travel to the camp to seek Ms Begum's consent to take her newborn son back to Britain while the case played out.

"I would hope that I would be able to outline the options for her, explain things to her," he said.

"We would want her agreement and consent, of course."

But Ms Begum told Sky News she would not allow her third child – the other two died in recent months while living under ISIS – to leave Syria without her.

Asked if she could change or be rehabilitated, she replied: "I am willing to change."

Ms Begum's family are from Bangladesh but Dhaka said on Wednesday that she had no claim to citizenship there.

British Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn said she had a "right to return" to her family in the UK.

Updated: February 22, 2019 04:55 AM

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