Home secretary Sajid Javid criticised after death of Islamic State runaway Shamima Begum’s baby

SAJID Javid's decision to strip Islamic State runaway Shamima Begum of her British citizenship has come under renewed criticism after her baby died in a refugee camp in Syria.

Saturday, 9th March 2019, 3:13 pm
Updated Saturday, 9th March 2019, 4:15 pm
Sajid Javid has come under fire for his decision. Photo: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire

The home secretary revoked the teenager's passport after she said she wished to return to the UK with her newborn son, having already lost two children.

Yesterday, it was confirmed the weeks-old boy died in a camp in northern Syria, with reports suggesting he had suffered from breathing difficulties.

Mr Javid faced fresh criticism today over his move, which came amid fierce debate over the future of Ms Begum, who fled London to join the terror group when she was 15.

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Shamima Begum's son is believed to have died. Picture: BBC

His Labour counterpart, Diane Abbott, said he had ‘behaved shamefully’ over the ‘tragedy that might have been avoided’.

‘If the mother and baby had been brought home, the mother, Shamima Begum, would have faced British justice, but the baby might have lived,’ she added.

Conservative MP Phillip Lee said he was ‘deeply concerned’ by Mr Javid's decision, which was ‘driven by a sort of populism’.

‘Clearly Shamima Begum holds abhorrent views and to want to join Islamic State is beyond all comprehension, but she was a child, a product of our society,’ he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Ed Davey said the boy will be remembered if courts rule that Mr Javid acted ‘illegally in making a British citizen stateless’.

‘Many of us feared this tragic outcome when the home secretary washed his hands of Britain's responsibility for a British citizen and a British baby,’ he added.

Kirsty McNeill, a director at Save the Children UK, urged Britain to ‘take responsibility for their citizens’ in Syria.

‘It is possible the death of this baby boy and others could have been avoided,’ she added.

Dal Babu, a former Metropolitan Police chief superintendent and friend of the Begum family, described the boy's death as ‘entirely avoidable’ as he criticised the government for failing to help return the baby.

‘What we have here is a totally innocent child, whatever you may think of Shamima's shortcomings, the mistakes she made as a 15-year-old child when she was groomed on our watch,’ he told BBC's Newsnight.

‘We failed to safeguard her and now we have failed, as a country, to safeguard a child  – a totally innocent British subject.’

Ms Begum, from Bethnal Green in east London, was 15 when she and two other schoolgirls went to join the terror group in February 2015.

Aged 19 and heavily-pregnant, she resurfaced in a refugee camp last month and said she wanted to return to Britain as the self-styled caliphate collapsed.

Her family announced the boy's birth on February 17 and said they believed he was ‘in good health’.

In an interview, Ms Begum told the BBC: ‘Losing my children the way I lost them, I don't want to lose this baby as well and this is really not a place to raise children, this camp.’

Yesterday the family's lawyer and the Syrian Democratic Forces confirmed the infant had died.

The Begum family, who vowed to appeal against the Mr Javid's decision, had also written to the Conservative minister, pleading with him to allow a safe passage for the boy to come to the UK.

A government spokesman said: ‘The death of any child is tragic and deeply distressing for the family.

‘The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has consistently advised against travel to Syria since April 2011.

‘The government will continue to do whatever we can to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and travelling to dangerous conflict zones.’