I have no sympathy towards Shamima Begum for joining Isis. However, I do have serious concerns as to how our society allowed this to happen. And as speculation grows over whether she will now be prosecuted at home – despite government commitments to strip her of her citizenship – that is still not clear.
In December 2014, 15-year-old Sharmeena Begum was the first London schoolgirl who left to go to Syria. Her father, Mohammed Uddin, was so concerned about her friends that he informed the police and the asked school to keep an eye on her friends. But in February 2015, friends Amira Abase, 15, Shamina Begum, 15 and Kadiza Sultana, 16, ran away to Syria.
The case of Shamima Begum is under discussion again this week as it emerged that journalists who met and interviewed the young Isis recruit inside a refugee camp have been asked to turn over their full notes to Scotland Yard. Begum’s family lawyer, Tasnime Akunjee, believes this is because UK police are now “building a case against her”.
When the girls first left for Syria, I was a senior portfolio holding councillor in Tower Hamlets. By June 2015 I had become a backbencher, but I never stopped asking myself what led these schoolgirls to leave for a place devastated with conflict and death.