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Shamima Begum: Family of ISIL runaway teen plea for her and baby's 'urgent' return

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By Chris Harris
Shamima Begum, who fled the UK to join ISIL, now wants to return.
Shamima Begum, who fled the UK to join ISIL, now wants to return.

The family of a British teenager who fled London to join the so-called Islamic State have made a plea for her 'urgent' return.

Shamima Begum, 19, was one of three schoolgirls who left the UK capital for Syria four years ago.

Begum — who married an ISIL fighter and saw two of her children die while in the war-ravaged country — has now escaped to a refugee camp.

She is pregnant and told a journalist from The Times newspaper this week that she wants to be allowed to return home.

“The welfare of Shamima’s unborn baby is of paramount concern to our family, and we will do everything within our power to protect that baby who is entirely blameless in these events,” Shamima's family said in a statement.

“As a British citizen, Shamima has every expectation to be returned to the UK and be dealt with under the British justice system.

“Shamima’s child who will also be British has every right as a total innocent to have the chance to grow up in the peace and security of this home.

“We welcome an investigation in what she did while she was there under the principles of British justice and would request the British government assist us in returning Shamima and her child to the UK as a matter of urgency.”

In her interview with The Times, Begum said she did not regret going to Syria and that the sight of “beheaded heads” in bins did not faze her.

“We like everyone else were utterly shocked by what we heard Shamima say in her interview with The Times, but to us, those are the words of a girl who was groomed at the age of 15; we are also mindful that Shamima is currently in a camp surrounded by IS sympathisers and any comments by her could lead directly to danger to her and her child,” the statement continued.

“Given Shamima’s four-year ordeal, we are concerned that her mental health has been affected by everything that she has seen and endured.”

Government ministers said they would not hesitate to stop the return of Begum.

Security minister Ben Wallace told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m not putting at risk British people’s lives to go and look for terrorists or former terrorists in a failed state.

“There are consular services elsewhere in the region and the strong message this government has given for many years is actions have consequences.”