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Shamima Begum: Father apologises to UK for daughter ‘doing wrong’

Shamima Begum’s father has apologised to the British public for his daughter’s decision to join the Islamic State group (IS).

Ahmed Ali said Ms Begum, who travelled from London to Syria aged 15, had “done wrong without realising it”.

Speaking to the BBC in Bangladesh, he said the UK should allow her to return home, where she could face prosecution.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid revoked Ms Begum’s British citizenship after she asked to return.

The Times newspaper found Ms Begum – who left the UK in 2015 – in a Syrian refugee camp in mid-February, when she was nine months pregnant.

She said she did not regret joining IS, but that she felt the “caliphate” was at an end.

Shortly after the birth of her son, Jarrah, she told the BBC she wished her child to be British and to be raised in the UK.

But Jarrah died of pneumonia on Thursday, according to a medical certificate. He was less than three weeks old.

The interview with Ahmed Ali, in the village of Dovroy in north-eastern Bangladesh, took place before he found out Ms Begum’s baby son had died.

“She has done wrong, I apologise to everyone as her father, to the British people, I am sorry for Shamima’s doing,” he told the BBC.

“I request to the British people, please forgive her.”

Media captionShamima Begum told the BBC she never sought to be an IS “poster girl”

Ms Begum’s father pointed out she was a child when she travelled to Syria.

“She was underage at that time, she couldn’t understand that much. I suppose someone influenced her to do that,” he said.

“I admit that she might have done wrong without realising it.”

He urged the British government and public to “take her back and punish her if she had done any mistake”.

Asked whether he knew Ms Begum was being radicalised, he said he had “no idea”.

In recent years he had lived mainly in Bangladesh, he said, visiting London for periods of between two and four months.

“I do not stay there more than that. I do not know much about her [lately],” he said.

“The time I stayed with Shamima, I never felt any such behaviour of going to Syria or joining IS.”

The home secretary has been criticised for refusing to allow Ms Begum to return to the UK with her child.

Ms Begum blamed inhospitable conditions in Syria for the deaths of two of her previous children.

In three months, more than 100 people have died on the way, or soon after, arriving at the camp, with two-thirds of those dying aged under five.

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