17 February 2019
Shamima Begum – the London teenager who left the UK to join the Islamic State in Syria – has given birth, her family says they have been told.
Their lawyer released a statement saying Ms Begum and her child – a boy – are believed to be in “good health”.
The BBC has not yet had it confirmed from any other source that Ms Begum is pregnant or has had a child.
The 19-year-old was found last week in a Syrian refugee camp by a reporter from the Times.
The newspaper published an interview in which Ms Begum said she was heavily pregnant and wanted to come home to the UK for her baby. She also said she had two children who had died in Syria.
In the statement, the family’s lawyer, Mohammed Tasnime Akunjee, said they had “been informed” that she had given birth to her child.
“As yet we not had direct contact with Shamima, we are hoping to establish communications with her soon so that we can verify the above,” the statement said.
He later tweeted to say it was a boy.
Cabinet minister Jeremy Wright told BBC’s Andrew Marr programme that the baby’s nationality was “not straightforward”.
The culture secretary, who was previously attorney general, said the first priority was establishing the health of her and her baby.
“But in the end she will have to answer for her actions. So I think it is right that if she’s able to come back to the UK that she does so, but if she does so she will do it on the understanding that we can hold her to account for her behaviour thus far,” he added.
Debate continues over whether Ms Begum should be stopped from returning to the UK, with Home Secretary Sajid Javid writing in the Sunday Times that he would “not hesitate” to prevent the return of Britons who travelled to join IS.
He added: “The difficult challenge we now face is what we should do about those who are still seeking to return.”
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On Friday Ms Begum’s family called on the UK to bring her back “urgently”.
They said her then-unborn baby was a “total innocent” and had the right to grow up in the “peace and security” of the UK.
Ms Begum and two other schoolgirls, Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase, from Bethnal Green, east London, left for Syria to join IS in February 2015.
She told The Times that Kadiza had died after a house was bombed, but the fate of her other friend is still unknown.
In the interview, Ms Begum said she had escaped from Baghuz, Islamic State’s last stronghold in eastern Syria, two weeks ago, but her husband – a Dutch convert to Islam – surrendered to a group of Syrian fighters as they left.