ISIS jihadi girl's family plead for her baby's UK entry

The family of a UK girl of Bangladeshi descent, who fled to join Islamic State (ISIS) in 2015, has appealed to the government to allow her new born baby to be rescued from the Syrian refugee camp and raised in Britain.

Sister of Shamima Begum, Renu, has written to UK home secretary Sajid Javid urging for his assistance and also informed him of the family's plan to help her 19-year-old sister mount a legal challenge against his decision to revoke her British citizenship.

"We were pleased to learn from your comments in the Commons that you recognise my nephew, Shamima's son, as a British citizen," Renu Begum said in a letter to the UK Home Secretary.

"As a family, we ask now how we can assist you in bringing my nephew home to us. In all of this debacle, he is the one true innocent and should not lose the privilege of being raised in the safety of this country," it notes.

Distancing the family from some of the "vile comments" made in support of the ISIS by Shamima Begum during media interviews, Renu Begum stresses that the exploitation of her younger sister at the hands of the terror group has "fundamentally damaged" her.

The letter further adds: "As we have already expressed, we are sickened by the comments she has made, but, as a family man yourself, we hope you will understand that we, as her family cannot simply abandon her.

"We hope you understand our position in this respect and why we must, therefore, assist Shamima in challenging your decision to take away the one thing that is her only hope at rehabilitation, her British citizenship. Shamima's status will now be a matter for our British courts to decide in due course."

The UK government on Wednesday stripped the British citizenship of Shamima who fled to join the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria in 2015 and married an Islamist extremist.

Tasnime Akunjee, the teen's family lawyer, said that they were working out the practicalities to ensure Shamima's child is not affected by the UK Home Office order to revoke her citizenship.

As the baby named Jarrah was born while Begum was still a British national last week, his status remains that of a British national.

"We would really like to know from Sajid Javid what practical steps he would take to assist a four- or five-day-old British citizen in difficult circumstances to come back to the UK," said Akunjee.

Shamima herself, meanwhile, made a renewed plea for the UK government to reconsider the decision to deny her return to Britain, where she was born.

"I would like them to re-evaluate my case with a bit more mercy in their heart, you know. I am willing to change," she told Sky News from her refugee camp in Syria.

Javid's move to revoke her citizenship earlier this week has met with varying reactions from different quarters of legal experts and politicians.

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn criticised the "very extreme" move and said Shamima Begum has a "right to return" to the UK, where she should face questioning.

The UK home secretary's own counter-terrorism adviser, Sara Khan, also branded the move "counterproductive".

"The government has to recognise the unease felt by a wide range of people about decisions of this kind, not least those from minority communities with dual nationality," Khan said.

It had been implied that the UK government move was based on the presumption that Begum has the automatic right to dual Bangladeshi citizenship until the age of 21 by virtue of her parents' Bangladeshi heritage.

However, Dhaka has since distanced itself from such a prospect, categorically denying Shamima had any claim to a Bangladeshi nationality or the right to entry to that country.

Javid has insisted that he would not take any decision that would make an individual "stateless", which goes against international law.

Shamima was 15-year-old when she fled from Bethnal Green in east London in February 2015 and married a Dutch Muslim convert as a so-called ISIS "jihadi bride" in Syria.

She can challenge the decision of the UK Home Office at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission. PTI AK SMJ SMJ

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