Sajid Javid has said he ‘will not hesitate’ to stop Shamima Begum, who left the UK to join Isis, from returning to the UK.
It emerged yesterday that the runaway schoolgirl, who is now 19 and heavily pregnant, wants to return to the UK after fleeing to Syria four years ago to become an Isis bride.
She told The Times she would ‘do anything required just to be able to come home and live quietly with my child’.
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) February 13, 2019
The Home Secretary said he would use powers available to him to prevent Ms Begum from coming back to Britain, and warned that she faced a criminal investigation if she did manage to come back.
He said: “We must remember that those who left Britain to join Daesh were full of hate for our country.
“My message is clear. If you have supported terrorist organisations abroad I will not hesitate to prevent your return.
“If you do manage to return you should be ready to be questioned, investigated and potentially prosecuted.”
Tory MP Tom Tugendhat, echoed Mr Javid’s harsh tone, saying he was ‘deeply, deeply untrusting’ of Ms Begum.
He said: “If she does return, she needs to be very carefully watched and perhaps prosecuted. This is not a trivial matter. She hasn’t just gone for a bit of a holiday and come back. She’s done something really quite appalling and sided with a violent enemy.”
Security Minister Ben Wallace also warned that runaways who now want to come back must realise that “actions have consequences”.
Ms Begum was one of three schoolgirls, along with Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase, from Bethnal Green Academy who left the UK in February 2015.
The teenager’s family has pleaded for her to be shown mercy.
Speaking on Question Time, leading Tory Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “Shamina Begum was under the age of consent when she was married in Syria. She has had two babies that have died. We must have some sympathy for someone who has been abused.”
Richard Barrett, a former director of global counter-terrorism at MI6, said: “Even (Ms Begum), as unrepentant as she may be, should be given a chance, if we are to stand by our values – and if we believe our society is strong enough to reabsorb a 15-year-old who went badly off the rails.”
Anthony Loyd, The Times correspondent who found her, said she was a “15-year-old schoolgirl who made a terrible mistake… and we must do out best to rehabilitate her amongst our own people”.
While no official operation to remove Ms Begum from Syria will be carried out, questions have been raised over whether Britain would be able to prevent her from returning to the UK.
As a British citizen, Begum has a right to live in the UK and former independent reviewer of terrorism legislation Lord Carlile told the BBC that if she has not gained a second citizenship of another country she would have to be allowed back to her homeland because under international law a person cannot be made ‘stateless’.
Some have suggested that Ms Begum is ‘unrepentant’ of her actions, but her brother-in-law Mohammed Rehman told Mail Online that her family want her to be allowed to return and be ‘re-educated’.
He said: “I can understand why people in this country are angry and don’t want her back. What she’s done doesn’t portray Islam in a good light.
“But she was only 15 when she went to Syria. We are appealing for compassion and understanding on her behalf.”