Councillor says Bethnal Green IS teenager shows how young women are being groomed

Cllr Rabina Khan, Shadwell ward. Picture: R KHAN

Cllr Rabina Khan, Shadwell ward. Picture: R KHAN - Credit: Archant

A councillor has called for more understanding of how terrorist groups groom young people after a pregnant teenager who joined IS in Syria now wants to return home.

Shamima Begum wants to return to the UK. Pic: Met Police

Shamima Begum wants to return to the UK. Pic: Met Police - Credit: MPS

Shamima Begum from Bethnal Green, who is now 19, was 15-years-old when she fled to Syria and married an Islamic State fighter.

The Times tracked her down to a Syrian refugee camp from where the nine-months pregnant teenager said she wanted to give birth in the UK but didn’t regret her actions.

Shadwell ward Liberal Democrat Cllr Rabina Khan also said Shamima was a case that showed how young women are being groomed.

She said: “This case shows that the people trying to take advantage of youngsters in our borough put them in real danger.

Shamima Begum wants to return to the UK. Pic: Met Police

Shamima Begum wants to return to the UK. Pic: Met Police - Credit: MPS


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“More needs to be done to understand how young people, in particular young Muslim women, are being targeted and groomed and for them to be shown the reality of the situation.”

While Shamima is remorseless Rabina said anyone who genuinely regretted their actions should be offered a route to recovery but young people needed to understand their decisions have consequences.

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Earlier today government security minister, Ben Wallace, ruled out launching a rescue mission to bring Shamima back.

Mr Wallace said he would not put British lives at risk to “go and look for terrorists or former terrorists”, adding that “actions have consequences”.

Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali. Picture: Mike Brooke

Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali. Picture: Mike Brooke - Credit: Mike Brooke

Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs, said: “We should remember that Shamima Begum was a child when she left London and was the clear victim of radicalisation.

“Her lack of remorse and apparent continued support for IS, however, are deeply worrying and cannot be left unchallenged. If she returns it is entirely right she is held to account for her actions.

“If that happens we will rightly have a duty of care to support any children involved. Any wider decisions would be for the Home Office and police. We will see how things unfold.”

MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, Rushanara, Ali echoed the mayor’s view saying if it was the case that Shamima Begum was trying to return to the UK, it was a matter for the police, security services and Foreign Office who would need to consider public safety and our national security.”

Mayor John Biggs. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mayor John Biggs. Picture: Mike Brooke - Credit: Mike Brooke

The three girls left their homes and families in February 2015 to join a fourth schoolgirl from Bethnal Green who left London the year before. Each is believed to have married an IS fighter.

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