Home Secretary Sajid Javid was accused of putting aspirations of becoming prime minister ahead of the needs of a “helpless” infant amid calls for the baby to be rescued by Britain
Sajid Javid is facing a torrent of criticism after ISIS bride Shamima Begum’s newborn baby died at a detention camp in Syria.
The Home Secretary was accused of putting aspirations of becoming prime minister ahead of the needs of a “helpless” infant after the death of the weeks-old boy named Jarrah.
Labour said the boy died as a result of a “callous and inhumane” decision and others said the UK had failed to safeguard the baby.
Mr Javid revoked Islamic State runaway Ms Begum’s citizenship after she surfaced heavily pregnant at a camp in mid-February and said she wanted to return with her son, having already lost two children.
The 19-year-old’s family vowed to appeal the decision and pleaded with Mr Javid to allow a safe passage for her son to come to the UK to no avail.
News of the baby’s death emerged on Friday, and it is said he had been rushed to a clinic with breathing difficulties, apparently caused by a lung infection, before dying on Thursday.
Human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith told the Guardian that Ms Begum, who was a 15-year-old schoolgirl when she left east London to join ISIS, made “very stupid” decisions, but “she is still a teenager”.
He added: “It is also sad to see Sajid Javid trying to better his chances of becoming prime minister by illegally stripping her of her passport, rather than maturely focusing on the needs of a helpless infant who might have been rescued.
Indeed, it is just this kind of ill-considered populism that is further alienating many Muslims when we should be proving that we really do believe in human rights for all.”
Former Met Police chief superintendent Dal Babu, a friend of Ms Begum’s family, told BBC Newsnight : “The family reached out to the Home Office and requested help.
“The Home Office sent a reply and said ‘You’ve come to the wrong department, you need to speak to Foreign and Commonwealth Office’. There was no attempt to help by the Home Office.
“What we have here is a totally innocent child, whatever you may think of Shamima’s shortcomings, the mistakes she made as a 15-year-old child when she was groomed on our watch.
We failed to safeguard her and now we have failed, as a country, to safeguard a child – a totally innocent British subject.”
“We’ve failed, as a country, to safeguard the child – a totally innocent British subject.”
Mr Javid faced criticism from shadow home secretary, Diane Abbott , who tweeted: “It is against international law to make someone stateless, and now an innocent child has died as a result of a British woman being stripped of her citizenship.
The death of Ms Begum’s third child was confirmed on Friday by her family’s lawyer Tasnime Akunjee.
He tweeted: “He was a British citizen.”
In response to the boy’s death, a Government spokesman said: “The death of any child is tragic and deeply distressing for the family.
“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has consistently advised against travel to Syria since April 2011.
“The Government will continue to do whatever we can to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and travelling to dangerous conflict zones.”
Last month, Mr Javid said Ms Begum’s son was a British citizen and claimed he had considered the child’s interest when deciding to revoke the teen’s citizenship.
He had told the Commons Home Affairs Committee it would be “incredibly difficult” for the Government to facilitate the return of a child from Syria, responding to questions about Ms Begum’s son.
Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis defended Mr Javid’s decision to strip Ms Begum of her British citizenship.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: “The loss of any life of any child is absolutely tragic and is a very clear reminder – this whole case – of the danger of travelling out to that area and getting involved.
“The Home Secretary will have had advice and I know he made a decision based on what is in the national interest and the security of people here in the UK.”
Ms Begum, from Bethnal Green in east London, joined the terror group in February 2015, travelling to Syria with two other schoolgirls.
When she was found at the al-Hol, or al-Hawl, camp in northern Syria last month she spoke of her desire to return to the UK following the collapse of ISIS so-called caliphate.
She told the Times she did not regret joining ISIS, but that she felt the “caliphate” was at an end.
After her citizenship was revoked, Ms Begum pleaded for mercy and claimed she is willing to change.
She told how she married her husband, Dutch ISIS fighter Yago Riedijk, 27, within days of arriving in Raqqa.
Ms Begum said their first two children had died of malnutrition, and she was pregnant with her third when they fled ISIS’ final sliver of territory in Baghuz, or Baghouz, as it was surrounded by coalition forces.
Both were captured and sent to different camps controlled by Kurdish forces.