Fury as ‘UK taxpayers’ cash to help jihadis like Shamima Begum and Jack Letts’

Taxpayers’ cash has been set aside to help British jihadis such as ISIS bride Shamima Begum and Jack Letts return to the UK, it is claimed.

It is said the fund could run into the millions, helping cash-strapped councils to house and support UK nationals who left the country to join ISIS.

Money has also been earmarked to "de-radicalise" children returning from the war zone in Syria, where ISIS is making its desperate last stand and many jihadi brides and their kids are living in refugee camps.

Begum made headlines last week when she resurfaced heavily pregnant at a Kurdish detention camp and announced she wanted to return to Britain.

The 19-year-old, who gave birth to a son, Jarrah, days ago, joined ISIS after leaving Bethnal Green in east London for Syria.

Her citizenship has been revoked since she resurfaced, sparking a debate over whether the Government’s decision violated international law and whether she should be allowed back in the UK.

Muslim convert Letts became known as ‘Jihadi Jack’ after dropping out of school aged 18 and travelling to Syria, where he was suspected of joining ISIS.

The 21-year-old, from Oxford, is currently being held in a Kurdish prison on allegations he was a member of the terror group, and has also expressed a desire to return to Britain.

A taxpayer-funded pot of cash has been set aside to help returning jihadis such as Letts and Begum, the Sun on Sunday reported.

Leaked Government documents warn local authorities that many radicalised children returning to Britain will have had military training and be “committed to terrorism", the report added.

The claims have been met with fury from Tory MP Robert Halfon, who chairs the Commons Education Committee.

He said: “It’s hard to believe that when you have huge pressure on school and college funding, vital resources are being given over to jihadis. What planet are we living on?”

Colonel Richard Kemp, a former Government counter terrorism adviser, said it was a "disgraceful" use of public money, adding: “They should not be allowed to return here, they are terrorists.”

Meanwhile, in a new interview published Sunday, Begum blasted Britain amid her pleas to be allowed back home.

The jihadi bride told the Sunday Telegraph that she regrets speaking to the media, a decision which has led to her losing her British citizenship and sparked a debate over whether she should be allowed back in the UK.

She claims she UK is making an "example" of her by revoking her citizenship, and suggested she might have been able to keep her UK passport if her case had not attracted so much attention.

Begum said: "They are making an example of me. I regret speaking to the media. I wish I had stayed low and found a different way to contact my family. That’s why I spoke to the newspaper."

She claims British officials have not contacted her at the al-Hol camp, adding: "They haven’t given me that courtesy."

Her father Ahmed Ali, 60, said he "does not have a problem" with the Government’s stance and suggested he did not have sympathy for his daughter due to her lack of remorse.

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday at his home in the Sunamganj region of north-east Bangladesh, he said: "I am on the side of the Government. I can’t say whether it is right or wrong, but if the law of the land says that it is correct to cancel her citizenship, then I agree.

"If she at least admitted she made a mistake then I would feel sorry for her and other people would feel sorry for her. But she does not accept her wrong."

Begum’s family have written to the Home Secretary asking for his help to bring her newborn son to Britain.

The Home Secretary revoked Begum’s British citizenship in a move only permissible under international law if it does not leave the individual stateless.

It was speculated that Begum, who is of Bangladeshi heritage, may have citizenship there but Bangladesh’s minister of state for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam denied this.

The Begum family’s lawyer Tasnime Akunjee said she was born in the UK, has never had a Bangladeshi passport and is not a dual citizen.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "In recent days the Home Secretary has clearly stated that his priority is the safety and security of Britain and the people who live there."

Kurdish officials said Begum is one of three British women in the al-Hol camp, but about a dozen more are expected to arrive after fleeing surrounded territory in Baghuz, where ISIS is making its last stand.

Begum told the Sunday Telegraph she does not know the fate of her Bethnal Green Academy classmate Amira Abase, who travelled with her to Syria in 2015 along with a third school girl, Kadiza Sultana.

Sultana is believed to have been killed in an air strike in 2016.

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ISIS Bride Shamima Begum

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