• Tuesday, Jan 19, 2021
  • Last Update : 05:27 am

British IS teen calls for mercy

  • Published at 07:00 pm February 22nd, 2019
Shamima Begum
File Photo: Renu Begum, sister of teenage British girl Shamima Begum, holds a photo of her sister as she makes an appeal for her to return home at Scotland Yard, in London, Britain February 22, 2015 Reuters

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

A London teenager who joined the Islamic State group in Syria called on the British authorities on Thursday to reconsider their decision to revoke her citizenship, calling for "mercy."

"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.

Begum was 15 when she ran away to join the jihadists 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 proto-state collapsed. 

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

Her family's lawyer, Tasnime Akunjee, is looking at challenging Britain's decision to revoke her citizenship, which risks leaving Begum stateless.

The Guardian newspaper reported that he plans to travel to the camp to seek Begum's consent to bring her newborn son back to Britain while the case plays out.

"I would hope that I would be able to outline the options for her, explain things to her. We would want her agreement and consent of course," he said.

But Begum told Sky News she would not allow her son - her third child, after the other two died in recent months while living under IS - to leave Syria without her.

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

Begum's family are from Bangladesh but the country said Wednesday she had no claim to citizenship there.

‘Family challenges govt's decision’

The family of the teenager said Friday it would challenge the British government's decision to revoke her citizenship.

A letter to interior minister Sajid Javid written by Begum's sister Renu on behalf of her family also called on the government to help bring her newborn son to Britain.

The fate of the 19-year-old has triggered fierce debate in Britain, with the government telling her family this week that it was revoking her citizenship.

"We hope you understand our position in this respect and why we must, therefore, assist Shamima in challenging your decision to take away the one thing that is her only hope at rehabilitation, her British citizenship," the family's letter said.

Renu Begum's letter also asked Javid to help "in bringing my nephew home to us."

It said Shamima Begum's status would now be a matter for British courts to decide.

‘No question’

International law prevents a government from rendering a person stateless, but Britain reportedly believes that Begum also has Bangladeshi citizenship due to her parents, although she was born in Britain.

The Bangladeshi government said there was "no question" of her being allowed to enter, and there is legal argument about whether simply having Bangaldeshi parents bestows citizenship.

Begum's baby was born before she was told of the decision to revoke her citizenship, and is therefore British and has a right to return.

The teenager said she was "shocked" by Britain's decision, saying: "if you take that away from me, I don't have anything. I don't think they are allowed to do that."

She has mentioned the possibility of applying for citizenship in the Netherlands because her husband, an IS fighter believed to be held by Kurdish forces in Syria, is a Dutch national.

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