Rescuing Shamima Begum’s baby would have been too dangerous, says British foreign secretary

UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid has been criticised for the death of the teenager's child

Renu Begum holds a photo of her sister, Shamima, as she appeals for the British teenager to return home. Reuters
Renu Begum holds a photo of her sister, Shamima, as she appeals for the British teenager to return home. Reuters

It would have been too dangerous for UK officials to rescue the baby of 19-year-old Shamima Begum from Syria, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Sunday.

The three-week-old son of the ISIS fighter died of pneumonia last week in a refugee camp in Syria. Ms Begum fled London to join ISIS at the age of 15.

"We have to think about the safety of the British officials that I would send into that war zone," Mr Hunt told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.

“Shamima knew when she made the decision to join Daesh that she was going to a country where there was no embassy, where there was no consular assistance.

“And I’m afraid those decisions, awful though it is, they do have consequences.”

Since the death of Ms Begum’s child, UK home secretary Sajid Javid has come under pressure for his decision to strip her of British citizenship.

On Saturday, Mr Javid was criticised by shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, who said the child died as a result of Ms Begum’s citizenship being revoked.

“The tragic death of Shamima Begum’s baby, Jarrah, is a stain on the conscience of this government,” Ms Abbott said.

“It is against international law to make someone stateless. And to leave a vulnerable young woman and an innocent child in a refugee camp, where we know infant mortality to be high, is morally reprehensible."

Ms Begum sparked outrage in February after telling the media that she did not regret her decision to travel to Syria and that she was unfazed by the sight of severed heads.

After leaving the UK, she married Yago Riedijk, a Dutch ISIS fighter who is being held in a Kurdish detention centre in north-eastern Syria.

She later said she regretted talking to the media and was moved to another location in Syria after she and her child received threats in the refugee camp.

Other British citizens who have left the country and married terrorists have also had their citizenship revoked.

The Sunday Times reported that two women, who have a total of five boys under the age of eight, were also stripped of their UK citizenship after marrying into a terror cell linked with the murder of westerners.

The newspaper identified them as Reema Iqbal, 30, and her sister Zara, 28, whose parents were originally from Pakistan. It was reported that the sisters left for Syria in 2013.

Updated: April 2, 2019 03:11 PM


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