Melanie McDonagh

Isis bride Shamima Begum should be allowed home

Isis bride Shamima Begum should be allowed home
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So, what do you reckon then about the jihadi bride, Shamima Begum, unearthed by the Times’ Anthony Loyd in a refugee camp in Syria? Should she be brought back home for an NHS delivery for her imminent baby – with the cops hovering backstage – or left to stew in a Syrian refugee camp, to give birth in the same conditions as other mothers-to-be? I may be misjudging my readers here, but I fancy I can discern which way most of us would want to go.

But the first thing to say about all this is that this wretched 19-year old is about the least important aspect of the Isis situation. The good news is that the murderous child rapists and genocides of Islamic state are down to their final territorial outpost – making their last stand in an orchard, apparently – which means that the caliphate, as established in 2014, is coming close to its end. Obviously, it’s not the end of Isis, and Ms Begum won’t be the only jihadist wanting to come home, but as for the state, it’s over. As someone once said, Rejoice, Rejoice, and now let’s get on with nailing the people responsible for enabling it to arise out of nowhere in 2014 to capture Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, with the central bank and a arsenal. 

But back to our mother-to-be, who has already lost two children. Right now, she’s unrepentant about joining Isis and indeed feels she’s a bit of a wimp to have made a run for it to a refugee camp. Remember what she says now about being unfazed about seeing a decapitated head in a bin because you can be sure of one thing: once she’s being advised by a British lawyer about her best interests, she’ll be professing the utmost remorse about her actions and her unutterable repugnance about the things she was obliged to witness, for the benefit of a British judge.

Obviously, she’s been supporting terrorism – with all the decapitations, genocide and child rape that went with it – for all she’s worth. Obviously, those Islamist views would make her a dangerous influence in society if she’s allowed back. Equally obviously, she’s Britain’s problem. Last week, I was at a conference for religious leaders in Abu Dhabi, attended by a remarkable number of these leaders in the Middle East. And what the ones from Syria and Lebanon in particular were telling me was that, by and large, it wasn’t local Muslims who were a problem; au contraire, it was the nutters who came into the country from abroad who have made a hell of hell. People like Shamima Begum. In a similar vein, a minister from the UAE expressed astonishment that restrictions in Britain are not tighter on people setting themselves up as imams; in his country, there are very strict controls over who can pass themselves off as a cleric and what they can preach (in fact, Friday sermons are issued by a central committee). That’s less true now than before, but the damage is done.

So, attractive as it may seem to leave Begum to it, and save the police and intelligence services the large sums of taxpayer money that would have to be spent protecting Muslims from her, and her from any possible threats, not to mention taxpayer funding for a term in prison if she should be found guilty of an offence, I really think this country has to suck it up. Frankly, the situation in Syria is bad enough without bequeathing that wretched country dangerous extremists from Britain. The country must take the consequences of its own laxity, in education, social policy, immigration (she was born here but her family came from abroad) and security. She will have to make her own way to Turkey or Iraq to come home, but once, if, she’s back, she can’t be turned away. She should of course face investigation and prosecution and then banged up if she’s found guilty – and I’d say her wretched child would be better off in care – but she’s Britain’s problem.