Who is Shamima Begum and what's the latest news on the ISIS schoolgirl?

We explain who she is and when she joined ISIS. Here’s the latest.

Who is Shamima Begum and when did she go to Syria?

Shamima Begum is a 19-year-old British woman who fled the UK to join ISIS in Syria.

Begum is pregnant with her third child, after her first two children died of starvation and illness.

She fled from Bethnal Green, East London with two of her pals – Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase – in February 2015.

Begum used her elder sister’s passport to flee with her Bethnal Green Academy pals.

The trio fled to Turkey and then crossed the border into Syria with the aid of smugglers.

She believed her friends were still alive as recently as two weeks ago, but Sultana is widely thought to have been killed in a Raqqa airstrike in 2016.

Begum’s eldest sister Renu revealed that her family had lost contact with her for the “longest time”.

When was she found?

Begum was discovered by a Times journalist in a camp filled with refugees escaping the battle for the final ISIS stronghold.

Begum told him she married a Dutch fighter and enjoyed a “normal” life, but he is believed to have surrendered to Syrian fighters and she is thought to be a widow.

She said she walked away from the embattled village of Baghuz because she “could not endure anymore”.

The teen also criticised ISIS’ oppression and corruption saying they don’t “deserve victory”.

She has also insisted that she doesn’t regret joining ISIS and even said seeing severed heads “didn’t faze me at all”.

Why does she want to return to the UK?

Begum told the Times: “I know what everyone at home thinks of me as I have read all that was written about me online. But I just want to come home to have my child.

“I’ll do anything required just to be able to come home and live quietly with my child.”

Anyone who returns to the UK after travelling to ISIS territory faces a criminal investigation and up to 10 years in jail.

What’s the latest?

Critics argued that Begum’s lack of remorse shows she is danger to the country and that she could be allowed back because of the baby.

Dr Kim Howells, a former Foreign Office and Counter-Terrorism Minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, said: "She sounds to be completely unrepentant, she sounds cynical, she said she wasn't phased by the sight of these heads in a bin as she described it. And now she wants to take advantage of the NHS.

"You can bet your bottom dollar there will be a lobby that will swing into action to get this girl home on humanitarian grounds.

"There's not going to be many people with great enthusiasm for bringing her back, but I suspect she will make it in the end."

Security minister Ben Wallace has also weighed in on the debate – saying he will not risk the safety of Brits.

He told the BBC: "Actions have consequences.

"I am not putting at risk British people’s lives by going to look for former terrorists.

"We have a duty to the UK citizens here to make sure we take measures to keep the safe. We have to mitigate the threat if she comes back."

He said that "as a British citizen she has the right to home here" but he added: "Anyone who goes to fight for Isis, a dreadful, horrendous group, should expect to be interviewed and potentially prosecuted."

Tasnime Akunjee, Begum’s family lawyer, has begged that the teen should be treated as a victim.
He claims authorities shouldn't prosecute the jihadist.

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