'Irony isn’t lost' on pregnant ISIS bride pleading to return to UK, says Security Minister
Security Minister Ben Wallace has commented on 19-year-old Shamima Begum’s pleas to return to the UK, four years after she fled to Syria to fight alongside ISIS.
Mr Wallace explained there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach in dealing with radicalised teenagers who want to return to the UK, but says ‘actions have consequences’ and people like Ms Begum should expect repercussions if they genuinely want to return to London.
“Not all of them are victims, some of them are. That’s going to be a difficult balance for us to deal with,” he told Good Morning Britain.
“We as a government have been incredibly clear, as have the police, that if you go and fight or support these types of organisations, there are consequences for that.”
“If you come back here, you should expect to be investigated and you should potentially expect to be charged with terrorist offences or other offences."
He said Ms Begum is currently in Syria, where the UK doesn’t provide consular assistance, however she can make her way to bordering countries such as Turkey or Iraq where that support is provided to UK citizens.
“The UK is obliged to make sure that when they seek that support, they get that support without discrimination,” he told GMB.
“If she’s a British citizen, she has rights. That’s the reality of it.”
He also pointed out: “The irony isn't lost on the government, it isn't lost on the public.”
"People have gone out in the past to fight for ISIS and when they’ve decided they’ve had enough, they want to come back to the very country they’ve abandoned or waged war against.”
Ms Begum made headlines in 2015 when she and two other girls from a Bethnal Green high school fled to Syria via Turkey. She was 15 years old at the time.
Now nine months pregnant and residing in a refugee camp in northern Syria, she has told The Times in an interview she fears for the life of her unborn child and wants to return to London; her other two children had both died.
“I’m not the same silly little 15-year-old schoolgirl who ran away from Bethnal Green four years ago,” she said.
However, Ms Begum doesn't regret her decision to flee the UK and join ISIS, and was unfazed by the violence and bombings.
"I saw a beheaded head in the bin... it didn't faze me at all," she admitted.
“It was a normal life, the life they showed on the propaganda videos… It’s a normal life, but every now and then there are bombs and stuff."
Ms Begum also conceded she doesn’t have ‘high hopes’ for the caliphate's survival.
“They’re just getting smaller and smaller and there’s so much oppression and corruption going on that I don’t really think they deserve victory.”
Ms Begum's sister Renu Begum has told ITV News: "I’m so relieved that my sister has been found, safe and sound.
"We are aware that she has been trying to get out. We lost contact with her for the longest of time.
"We hope the British Government will help us bring her home to us where she belongs."
Home Secretary Sajid Javid will be making the final decision on the controversial case.