British ISIS bride Shamima Begum’s son is believed to have died, her family’s lawyer claims, but sources at her Syrian refugee camp have denied the report, saying the newborn is alive and well.
Mohammed Tasnime Akunjee took to Twitter to say that he had ‘strong but as yet unconfirmed reports’ that the young child had passed away, adding: ‘He was a British citizen.’
However, a source in the camp denied the 19-year-old’s third child had died, and indicated that they may not have been moved.
‘The baby is still alive and Shamima is still alive and they are in a good situation,’ said the source.
Shamima Begum’s family lawyer took to Twitter to claim that the British ISIS bride’s young son, whose father is a Dutch jihadist, had died
Denials: Mustafa Bali, spokesperson for the US-backed Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces, denied Mr Akunjee’s claims – branding them ‘fake’ – to which the lawyer responded asking for ‘confirmation’
Mohammed Tasnime Akunjee (pictured) had taken to Twitter to say that he had ‘strong but as yet unconfirmed reports’ that the young child had passed away, adding: ‘He was a British citizen’
The spokesperson for the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), also took to Twitter in the wake of Mr Akunjee’s claims.
Mustafa Bali wrote: ‘Leaks said that ISIS bride Shamima’s son died are fake.
He added: ‘The bebe is alive and healthy,’ to which Mr Akunjee responded saying he would be ‘grateful for confirmation’.
Last week, Mr Akunjee claimed Begum and her son Jerah, named after a 7th century Islamic warlord, had been moved from the Al-Hol camp in the north of the country due to ‘safety concerns around her and her baby’.
The 19-year-old’s two older children by her Dutch jihadist fighter husband both died before she fled ISIS’s last foothold in Syria, the town of Baghouz.
Begum is pictured holding her son Jerah, named after a 7th century Islamic warlord, in the Al-Hol refugee camp where he was born
Begum, now 19, left London to join ISIS in Syria when she was just 15 years old, and swiftly married Dutch husband Yago Riedijk, now 27
Who is Shamima Begum’s lawyer?
Privately-educated lawyer Tasnime Akunjee has represented the families of the three girls from Tower Hamlets, east London, who fled the UK to join Islamic State, including Shamima Begum, since 2015.
Since she was found in a Syrian refugee camp in mid-February, Mr Akunjee has caused controversy by comparing the 19-year-old ISIS bride to a First World War soldier and said she had been treated worse than Nazi war criminals. Mr Akunjee has been spearheading the campaign to get Ms Begum repatriated to the UK.
Previous clients of the criminal defence lawyer include one of Lee Rigby’s killers. He once blamed British authorities for ‘creating’ Fusilier Rigby’s killer, suggested Theresa May has ‘Nazi blood’ for trying to root out extremists and urged Muslims not to cooperate with police.
Twice married Mr Akunjee, 41, has worked for a series of law firms since 2008, while also working as a legal adviser to the East London Mosque.
It is believed he may have met the families of the runaway Tower Hamlets girls as part of this role.
Mr Akunjee said he is handling the Begum case ‘pro bono’, meaning free of charge. It is unclear whether that would continue if the case came before the British courts in future.
According to his LinkedIn page, Mr Akunjee, the son of a Bangladeshi doctor, studied at the £18,000-a-year City of London School for Boys.
He went on to study law at the Universities of Sussex and then Westminster.
Ms Begum was 15 when she and two other schoolgirls went to join the terror group in February 2015, and married Yago Riedijk, now 27, shortly afterwards.
She resurfaced heavily-pregnant in a refugee camp in northern Syria last month and spoke of her desire to return to the UK, as the self-styled caliphate collapsed.
On February 17, her family announced the boy’s birth and said they believed he was ‘in good health’.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid stripped the British citizenship of Ms Begum – who is from Bethnal Green in east London – amid a fierce national debate over whether she should be allowed to return.
Her family, who pledged to appeal against the decision, also wrote to Mr Javid pleading with him to allow a safe passage for the boy to come to the UK.
Last month, Mr Javid confirmed the boy was a British citizen and said he had considered the child’s interest when deciding to revoke Ms Begum’s citizenship.
Asked whether there was any plan for Ms Begum’s son, Mr Javid told the Commons Home Affairs Committee it would be ‘incredibly difficult’ for the Government to facilitate the return of a child from Syria.
‘If it is possible somehow for a British child to be brought to a place where there is a British consular presence, the closest place – it might be Turkey for example – in those circumstances I guess potentially it is possible to arrange for some sort of help with the consent of the parent,’ he added.
‘Inside Syria, whether in a camp or maybe somewhere else, there is no British consular presence.’
The Foreign Office has been contacted for confirmation of the baby’s reported death.