London girl who joined ISIS in Syria pleading for UK return – 5 key questions

A teenager who ran away from Britain as a 15-year-old schoolgirl to join the ISIS says she now wants to come home to raise her child.

Heavily pregnant with her third child, Shamima Begum, now 19, was tracked down by The Times to a refugee camp in northern Syria.

She was one of three schoolgirls – along with Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase – from Bethnal Green Academy who left their homes and families in February 2015 to marry freedom fighters in Syria.

She told the Times’ Anthony Lloyd: "I’m not the same silly little 15-year-old schoolgirl who ran away from Bethnal Green four years ago.

"But I just want to come home to have my child. That’s all I want right now. I’ll do anything required just to be able to come home and live quietly with my child."

Here are some key questions her case raises:

What action might she face if she is allowed to return to the UK?

Home Office Minister Ben Wallace has said everyone who returns from taking part in the conflict in Syria or Iraq must expect to be investigated by the police.

This will determine if they have committed criminal offences, and to ensure that they do not pose a threat to national security.

"There are a range of terrorism offences where individuals can be convicted for crimes committed overseas," he said.

How should Ms Begum be treated by UK authorities?

Ms Begum was a pupil at Bethnal Green Academy in east London when she ran away to Syria in February 2015 with Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase, who also attended the school.

Tasnime Akunjee, a lawyer who was instructed by the girls’ families after they disappeared, told the Press Association that British authorities should be reminded of former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe’s position at the time.

Lord Hogan-Howe said that the girls would be treated as victims so long as they had not committed any further offences while in Syria.

How many British women and girls joined IS and how many have returned?

An absence of public Government data has led experts to warn the number of women and minors linked to IS thought to have returned has been significantly underestimated.

An estimated 850 people have travelled from the UK to support IS in Iraq and Syria, including 145 women and 50 minors, according to a report by King’s College London released last year.

Of the 425 who have returned, only two women and four minors were listed.

Do they pose a threat?

Joana Cook, a senior research fellow at KCL who co-authored the study, said the researchers considered the women to be potential security threats based on several factors.

She said: "(These include) the physical security roles and related training that women have undertaken in IS-held territory, and the potential to transfer or apply these skills in other locations, or to pass these on to other people… including other women and their children."

What is left of Islamic State?

When Ms Begum left for Syria in 2015, IS had taken control of large tracts of northern Syria and northern Iraq.

Millions of people were living in territory controlled by the terrorist group, which had declared the creation of a caliphate.

Four years later, following a massive military campaign by regional forces assisted by foreign powers including America, Britain and Russia, IS territory has dwindled to a small village in eastern Syria.

Earlier this week, US-backed Syrian forces launched an operation to clear Baghuz where, according to Ms Begum, Ms Abase and a fourth Bethnal Green schoolgirl, Sharmeena Begum, remain.

Read More

Top news stories from Mirror Online

  • Alesha MacPhail trial latest
  • Savage Snapchat attack on girl by bully
  • Millionaire’s son’s odd gift to family
  • Valentine’s Day weather scorcher

Source: Read Full Article