The UK government is considering ways of bringing home the children born to so-called runaway British Islamic State (ISIS) jihadi brides from Syria, according to a media report.
Aid organisations believe there are around 60 children with British origins in the region, most of whom remain with their mothers who had joined the terrorist group.
According to ‘The Sunday Times’, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and foreign secretary Dominic Raab backed plans to repatriate the children against opposition from the UK’s Ministry of Defence, which did not want responsibility for getting them to Britain.
The UK Home Office, which fears it will have to keep the jihadi brides under surveillance if they accompany their children, is also believed to be opposed to such a plan.
The newspaper quoted a government source as saying that each child was being considered “on a case by case basis”.
Ministerial sources were quoted as saying the government has taken legal advice that repatriated mothers could be put on trial for child abuse or neglect, removing any need to prove that they had been engaged in jihadist activity.
Among the women who could be returning is 25-year-old Tooba Gondal, a Bangladeshi-origin Londoner accused of acting as a recruiter and propagandist for ISIS.
In a sign of preparations for a change in policy, UK Foreign Office officials have reportedly been seeking information from Gondal’s family in east London about her children, Ibrahim, 3, and Asiya, 18 months, to establish their nationality.
They were born in Syria to different fathers.
Gondal’s family is understood to have provided the Foreign Office with an expired passport and birth certificate for Ibrahim’s British father, an ISIS suicide bomber. Asiya’s father, who is also dead, is believed to belong from the Russian Caucasus.
Gondal and her children are believed to be in the hands of a Turkish-linked militia near Syria’s border with Turkey. If they cross over, they could be automatically deported to the UK.
Gondal is a former English student from Goldsmiths University of London and denounced ISIS and apologised to the British public for travelling to Syria in an open letter published by ‘The Sunday Times’, in which she had pleaded for her “innocent” children to be allowed to return to the UK.