‘Whatever you may think of Shamima’s shortcomings…we have failed, as a country, to safeguard a child – a totally innocent British subject.’
The death of jihadi bride Shamima Begum’s newborn son was ‘entirely avoidable,’ according to her family friends.
The Home Office has been condemned for stripping the teenager of her British citizenship and for failing to allow her and baby Jarrah to return from war-torn Syria. This morning, Labour said the newborn’s death was a ‘stain on the conscience of this government.’
Shamima was 15 when she fled her home in east London with two school friends to join terror group Islamic State. She resurfaced heavily pregnant in a refugee camp in northern Syria last month and spoke of her desire to return to the UK as the self-styled caliphate collapsed.
She gave birth in the camp in the middle of February, having already lost two children, and said she wanted her son to be raised in the UK. On Thursday Jarrah suffered breathing difficulties at the camp and died from pneumonia later that day. He has been buried at the camp.
Dal Babu, a former Metropolitan Police chief superintendent and friend of the Begum family, described it as an ‘entirely avoidable death of a British citizen’.
He told BBC’s Newsnight: ‘The family reached out to the Home Office and requested help. ‘The Home Office sent a reply and said “You’ve come to the wrong department, you need to speak to Foreign and Commonwealth Office”. ‘There was no attempt to help by the Home Office.
‘What we have here is a totally innocent child, whatever you may think of Shamima’s shortcomings, the mistakes she made as a 15-year-old child when she was groomed on our watch.
‘We failed to safeguard her and now we have failed, as a country, to safeguard a child – a totally innocent British subject.’ He added that he believed the decision regarding Ms Begum’s citizenship should be ‘urgently’ reviewed.
Tens of thousands of displaced Syrians and foreigners have ended up at the al-Hol camp in Syria (Picture: AFP)
Charities have warned that conditions are dire in the camps as tens of thousands of civilians and surrendering fighters flee the last remaining stronghold of IS. Evacuees have spoken of the situation being like a ‘horror film’ saying there is a ‘massacre’ happening.
Kurdish-led forces are extracting people from the last pockets of militant-held territory around the town of Baghouz by the Syria/Iraq border. Diehard fighters remain holed up in a small area and are said to be preparing to make a bloody last stand against government forces.
Shamima’s husband, Dutch jihadi Yago Riedijk, 23, is being held in a detention centre in north-eastern Syria. He says he wants to return to the Netherlands, where he faces a six-year jail term for joining a terror organisation.
Shamima Begum’s husband, Yago Riedijk, married her when she was 15 (Picture: BBC)
Shamima was one of an estimated 50,000 people who ended up at the al-Hol refugee camp, run by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). She was moved for her safety last week after reports other jihadi wives were targeting her for speaking to the media.
In an earlier interview with the BBC, Ms Begum said: ‘Losing my children the way I lost them, I don’t want to lose this baby as well and this is really not a place to raise children, this camp.’ Shamima was stripped of her British citizenship by Home Secretary Sajid Javid after he said she failed to show any remorse for joining the terror organisation.
He confirmed that Jarrah was a British citizen and said he had considered the boy’s best interests when deciding to revoke Shamima’s right to live in the UK. The Conservative minister added it would be ‘incredibly difficult’ for the Government to bring the baby back to the UK, especially as the closest consulate is in Turkey.
There has been fierce fighting in Islamic State’s last holdout at Baghouz (Picture: AP)
Labour’s shadow home secretary Diane Abbott criticised Mr Javid’s decision. She said: ‘The tragic death of Shamima Begum’s baby, Jarrah, is a stain on the conscience of this government.
‘It is against international law to make someone stateless, and now an innocent child has died as a result of a British woman being stripped of her citizenship. ‘This is callous and inhumane.’ The Home Office said that some 900 male and female extremists had left Britain to fight for Isis.
Around 200 are believed to have been killed and another 360 have already returned home. Anti-terror police say as many as 200 jihadists who are still alive would pose a significant security threat if they ever came back to the UK.
Civilians are being evacuated down a humanitarian corridor as IS prepares to make a final stand (Picture: AFP)
Both the Home Office and Foreign Office told Metro.co.uk there were no official figures for how many children have been born or taken overseas. According to a 2018 report from the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR) at least 3,704 foreign-born children were taken to Islamic State territory by their parents or carers. They said they had also verified the births of 730 children from 19 countries. Other unverified reports put that figure at closer to 5,000.
Several hundred children are known to have returned home although sadly many will have died in IS territory, which spans both Syria and Iraq. Some children as young as nine have found themselves in front of the courts for their role within IS while others are in prison with their mothers.
Mr Javid told parliament last month he believed there could be hundreds of British children stranded in the failed extremist state. After learning of Jarrah’s death, the Home Secretary said: ‘Sadly there are probably many children, obviously perfectly innocent, who have been born in this war zone. ‘I have nothing but sympathy for the children that have been dragged into this. ‘This is a reminder of why it is so, so dangerous for anyone to be in this war zone.’