The newborn son of Shamima Begum who left her London home to join the Daesh group in Syria died Friday in a refugee camp, an official said. Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces, confirmed that the infant died at a camp in north Syria.
A Kurdish intelligence official said Jarrah had been taken to hospital several times in the past week with breathing difficulties. A friend of Begum said “the baby turned blue and was cold” before being rushed to a clinic inside the camp.
Lawyer Tasnime Akunjee tweeted that he had “strong but as yet unconfirmed reports that Shamima Begum’s son has died. He was a British citizen.”
Begum – who left the UK in 2015 with two school friends to marry Daesh fighters in Syria at a time when the group’s online recruitment program lured many impressionable young people to its self-proclaimed caliphate – was found by a journalist from the Times in a Syrian refugee camp in mid-February. She said she had been living with her husband, a Dutch IS fighter, in Islamic State’s last stronghold and had previously lost two children, blaming the inhospitable conditions. Nine months pregnant, she told the paper she did not regret joining IS, but that she felt the “caliphate” was at an end.
Begum, now 19, told journalists that she wanted to raise her son in Britain, but the government revoked her citizenship. Begum told reporters that she had lost two other children to malnutrition and disease. Her Dutch militant husband Yago Riedijk, who is in a Kurdish-run detention center, said last week that he wanted to return to the Netherlands with Begum and their son, reported AP.
British Home Secretary Sajid Javid said last month he had revoked Begum’s citizenship. Javid also confirmed that Begum’s son was a British citizen, though he said it would be “incredibly difficult” to facilitate the return of a child from Syria. Begum’s parents are from Bangladesh but her family says she isn’t a dual citizen. The family has said it plans to challenge Javid’s decision.
A UK government spokesman said the death of any child was “tragic”. The spokesman said the government had consistently advised against travelling to Syria and would “continue to do whatever we can to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and travelling to dangerous conflict zones”.
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