Shamima Begum’s Loss of Her Son Means We Need to Rethink How We Safeguard British Children

Shamima Begum’s decision to go to the Islamic State was made when she was 15. No doubt, she was a young person who was influenced by what she consumed through slick Islamic State propaganda online. She was vulnerable to being drawn into the propaganda and those working on extremism realise that those personal vulnerabilities involve a range of possible factors.

What is troubling is that Begum did not try and leave the Islamic State as Sabra Kesinovic did. It is alleged that Kesinovic was murdered for trying to leave the Islamic State and it is possibly understandable that Begum did not leave because of fear. Yet, in her interviews to media sources after her residence in the Al-Hawl refugee camp in Syria, she stated that life in the Islamic State was fine until attacks on Raqqa. There was no sense of regret, until after her interviews with British media sources that seemed to open up some sense of reflection within herself.

Many in the U.K. simply have little compassion for Begum. No-one can blame them when hundreds of our citizens have been murdered by terrorists overflowing with rage which has been inflamed by the propaganda of Islamic State. Furthermore, the Home Secretary has said on many occasions that he has further information that has been made available to him that allows him to withdraw her citizenship.

However, in all of the discussions about Begum in the last few weeks, what has been missed and what few have considered, was that there was a young new born in the equation who was highly vulnerable to infection, dehydration and malnutrition. It seems that the obsession with Begum simply missed out this tiny British life that has now passed from this earth. That child simply did not have a chance for a future.

This whole scenario demonstrates one key fact. That we must do what is possible through third party countries in places like Syria to try and ensure the lives of innocents have a chance to survive. Whilst the U.K. has no consulate in Syria, we could have tried to protect that life through third party countries or at the very least, get medical support for that child through these countries. However, politics must have played a role in this as politicians would have been concerned about how public funds being used to save the life of a young child born to an IS bride, would be seen.

Moving forward, we must take into account the lives of the children born to IS sympathisers and supporters. We simply have a moral, practical and political responsibility to the children. We ask Her Majesty’s Government to open up channels of support through third party countries to provide some basic medical assistance to the children of these parents. This support does not have to be provided to their parents, but the innocents, their children must be supported. They are the innocents in this whole moral mess.