However, a former MI6 agent is urging Britain to allow the teenager’s, Shamima Begum's, return
The British government has adopted a hard line in response to British-Bangladeshi teenager Shamima Begum's desire to return to the UK.
Shamima, alongside two of her school friends, left London for Syria to join Islamic State (IS) in 2015. However, now nine-months pregnant and living in a refugee camp in the north of Syria—after fleeing IS' last stronghold—Shamima recently expressed her desire to come back to the UK in a Times interview.
Shamima does not regret her decision to join the IS, and talks about how seeing "beheaded heads" in bins "did not faze her."
In response to her interview, British Home Secretary Sajid Javid said he would use all available powers to prevent Begum’s return.
"My message is clear; if you have supported terrorist organizations abroad I will not hesitate to prevent your return," he told the Times.
He said even if Shamima manages to return to the UK, she should be ready "to be questioned, investigated, and potentially prosecuted."
Javid added that if Shamima does attempt to return, there are a "range of measures available, to stop people who pose a serious threat, from returning to the UK." One of those measures includes stripping Shamima of her British citizenship, he said.
Security chiefs in London can also control Shamima's possible return through a Temporary Exclusion Order.
Meanwhile, Security Minister Ben Wallace expressed his concerns over the security threat Shamima could pose to the citizens of his country.
"People who went out there as amateurs are now professionals—terrorists or professional supporters of terrorism— and we have to make sure we mitigate that threat should they come back," he said.
Wallace made it clear his government will provide no help to her while she is in Syria, where Britain has no consular staff.
Shamima legally entitled to return
Legal experts, however, have said as a British citizen, no one can stop Shamima from coming back to her home country.
Only those with dual nationality can have their citizenship revoked, as under international law, it is an offence to render a person stateless, said Helen Fenwick, a Durham University law professor and expert on counter-terrorism and human rights law.
Despite Shamima's possibility of facing prosecution on a number of grounds, it would still prove to be "notoriously difficult," as it is often impossible to find reliable testimony about the activities of people living in a conflict zone, Fenwick said.
Former MI6 agent sympathizes with Shamima's plight
A former director of global counter-terrorism at MI6 has said Shamima should be "given a chance" and allowed to come home.
Richard Barrett described Shamima as a "teenager who went badly off the rails," and said the British society should be strong enough to reabsorb her; despite Shamima's apparent lack of remorse.
The British government's immediate reaction to Shamima's story "has been a complete lack of concern for her plight," Richard said.
In 2015, Bethnal Green Academy pupils, teenagers Shamima Begum, Amira Abase and Khadiza Sultana, flew from Gatwick Airport to Turkey and crossed the border to Syria. Upon reaching, Shamima married a 27-year-old Dutch man.
Two weeks ago, the couple escaped from IS' last territory in eastern IS, Baghuz; Shamima's husband surrendered to a group of Syrian fighters and she has been staying as one of the 39,000 refugees in a camp in northern Syria.
Shamima has already lost two children while in Syria, and is now nine-months pregnant with her third child.