A teenager who was stripped of her British citizenship after leaving London to join the Islamic State (IS) group is not a Bangladeshi citizen and there was “no question” of her being allowed to enter the country, the foreign ministry in Dhaka says.
- Bangladesh says Shamima Begum is not a citizen
- The teenager left the UK for Syria when she was 15
- She wanted to return to UK with her newborn child
It added it was “deeply concerned that she has been erroneously identified as a holder of dual citizenship shared with Bangladesh alongside her birthplace, the United Kingdom”.
Shamima Begum, 19, left the UK to join IS when she was 15 but now wants to return.
The news comes as truckloads of civilians flee the last IS stronghold — Baghouz in eastern Syria — signalling a possible end to a standoff that has lasted more than a week.
Ms Begum was found heavily pregnant in a Syrian refugee camp last week and gave birth to a child on Sunday (local time).
Her British citizenship was reportedly revoked on security grounds.
“She is a British citizen by birth and has never applied for dual nationality with Bangladesh,” the Bangledeshi Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Ms Begum told media she did not know what she was getting into when she left and wanted to bring her baby back to London with her.
She told UK media she had only been a “housewife” during her time and said she “never did anything dangerous”.
CCTV issued by the Metropolitan Police shows Shamima Begum, right, going through security at Gatwick airport before catching a flight to Turkey. (AP: Metropolitan Police)
Ms Begum said she did not regret coming to Syria but she had previously lost two children to malnutrition.
“When I saw my first severed head in a bin it didn’t faze me at all,” she told The Times.
In a statement on Twitter, the family’s lawyer Tasnime Akunjee said they were “very [disappointed] with the Home Office’s intention to have an order made depriving Shamima of her citizenship”.
Ms Begum’s relatives in Britain said they were “shocked” by her comments but thought she should be brought back and dealt with by the British justice system.
“The welfare of Shamima’s … 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,” the family had said.
The family said it was concerned about Ms Begum’s mental health and characterised her as having been groomed by IS militants.
Civilians evacuated from last Islamic State holdout in Syria
As Ms Begum continues her attempts to return to the UK, hundreds have fled the last enclave held by IS in eastern Syria.
A convoy of trucks carrying hundreds of civilians has left Baghouz, situated on the Euphrates River near the Iraqi border.
Hundreds of Islamic State militants, surrounded in a tiny area in eastern Syria, are refusing to surrender. (AP: Felipe Dana)
It is the final scrap of territory left to the extremist group that in 2014 controlled a vast stretch of territory across Syria and Iraq.
It has been reduced from its self-proclaimed “caliphate” to a speck of land on the countries’ shared border.
Reporters in Baghouz, where IS is making its final stand, counted at least 17 trucks that emerged through a humanitarian corridor used in past weeks to evacuate people.
Women, children and men, some with chequered headscarves, or keffiyehs, could be seen through a flap opening on the flatbed trucks.
It was not immediately clear if IS militants were also on the trucks.
Around 300 militants, many of them foreign fighters, are believed to be in the enclave, along with several hundred civilians.
Nearly 20,000 civilians had left the shrinking area in recent weeks before the evacuation halted last week when the militants closed all the roads out of the tiny area.
The towns recapture by US-backed Syrian fighters would spell the territorial defeat of IS and allow US President Donald Trump to begin withdrawing American troops from northern Syria.
Few believe, however, that ending the group’s territorial rule will end the threat posed by an organisation that still stages and inspires attacks through sleeper cells in both Syria and Iraq.