Shamimia Begum’s newborn son has passed away, CNN is reporting. Begum has been at the center of controversy as of late as she begged to return to the United Kingdom after fleeing her home country of London to join ISIS in Syria when she was 15 years old. In response, U.K. Home Secretary Sajid Javid made the controversial decision to revoke her British citizenship. Now age 19, Begum gave birth to a child named Jarrah in a Syrian refugee camp in February, who ultimately died a few hours after being transferred from al-Hawl camp to the main hospital in al-Hasakah City in northern Syria.
Begum told the media she wanted to return to the United Kingdom to give birth to her child there — as she had given birth twice before in Syria, and both infants died from illness and malnutrition. Tragically, Jarrah is one of almost one hundred children who have died after attempting to escape from ISIS territory in Baghouz and find safety at al-Hawl refugee camp in northern Syria. According to the International Rescue Committee, children die en route or shortly after arriving at the camp due to lack of food, water, and healthcare.
Even though Begum’s plea to return to the U.K. was rejected, her sister Renu had still been fighting to at least have her son granted citizenship. Renu had written a letter to Javid, arguing that the baby was “the one true innocent” in the situation. Javid has spoken out in the past about how children of jihadists should not have to pay for their parent’s beliefs.
“Children should not suffer, so if a parent does lose their British citizenship, it does not affect the rights of their child,” Javid said.
Now that Begum’s United Kingdom citizenship has officially been revoked, there is an ongoing debate about whether this move is legal. Technically, the Home Office can only revoke British citizenship as long as it “would not render the individual stateless.” According to Dal Babu, a chief superintendent for the Metropolitan Police who keeps in contact with the Begum’s family, Begum is of Bangladesh origin. The Bangladesh foreign ministry released an official statement in response to this point, stating that Begum is not a Bangladeshi citizen nor has she even visited the country.
While Begum’s baby ended up dying, the citizenship debate is still ongoing. In the meantime, a spokesperson for the UK Foreign Office says they will continue to discourage traveling to Syria.
“The government will continue to do whatever we can to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and traveling to dangerous conflict zones,” said the spokesman.