Jeremy Hunt says ISIS teen Shemima Begum ‘knew consequences’ of fleeing to Syria as her baby dies

Posted On: 
10th March 2019

Jeremy Hunt has said ISIS bride Shamima Begum knew the consequences of fleeing to Syria to join the terror group, as he defended ministers following her baby’s death.

Renu, eldest sister of Shamima Begum, holds her sister's photo while being interviewed by the media in 2015
Credit: 
PA Images

The Foreign Secretary hit back at criticism of the Government's refusal to allow the 19-year-old and three-week-old son, Jarrah, to return to Britain after it was revealed that the baby had since died in the refugee camp they were living in.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott branded ministers’ ruling as “morally reprehensible” following the news of the baby's death, and said her opposite number, Sajid Javid, “has a lot to answer for”.

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But Mr Hunt said while "it’s an incredibly distressing and sad situation”, Begum chose to travel to the war-torn country aged 15, aware of the “consequences”.

“This is a war zone,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

“The mother chose to leave a free country to join a terrorist organisation.

“And we have to think about the safety of the British officials I would send into that war zone as a representative of the Government.

“Shamima knew when she made the decision to join Daesh she was going into a country where there was no embassy, no consular assistance.

“And I’m afraid those decisions, awful though it is, they do have consequences.”

He also defended the decision not to send officials into camps to retrieve UK citizens, insisting it was too dangerous and that they were at greater risk than journalists who have interviewed Begum in recent weeks.

“Sending a British Government official into a war zone in a situation, where you are getting advice that those officials’ lives may be put at risk, is a very different matter,” he said.

Speaking on Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday earlier, Labour frontbencher Keir Starmer said the decision to remove Begum’s British citizenship was “a wrong decision and a rushed decision”.

“The Home Secretary needs to come to Parliament tomorrow and make a statement on this and face questions,” he said.

“There is a growing feeling this decision wasn’t properly made and the tragic consequences now are that a newborn child has died.”