Family of IS teen appeals to UK to help bring her home

LONDON (AP) – The family of a pregnant British teenager who ran away to join the Islamic State (IS) group urged the government on Friday to help bring her home.

Shamima Begum’s family issued a statement appealing for government assistance “as a matter of urgency.” Begum, now 19, resurfaced this week at a refugee camp in Syria where she gave an interview to the Times of London saying she didn’t regret her decision, but wanted to come home.

“Given Shamima’s four-year ordeal, we are concerned that her mental health has been affected by everything that she has seen and endured,” the family said in a statement to Britain’s ITV, describing her words as those of child who had been groomed by IS recruiters.

Begum was one of a group of schoolgirls from London’s Bethnal Green neighbourhood who went to Syria to marry IS fighters in 2015 at a time when the group’s online recruitment programme lured many impressionable young people to its self-proclaimed caliphate.

Her comments raise larger questions about how Western societies will deal with others who joined IS, but want to return to their home countries now that the extremist group is on the verge of collapse.

Shamima Begum. – AP