ISIS bride Shamima Begum’s son dies and most people are wondering, now what? Let’s recap.
Nineteen-year-old Shamima Begum is the British schoolgirl who left the UK to joint ISIS and become a jihadi bride. Years later, defecting ISIS after its defeat and heavily pregnant for the third time, Shamima landed in a refugee camp and pleaded to be allowed back into the UK to give birth to her baby. That didn’t happen.
In the midst of a debate over how to deal with jihadi brides, Shamima Begum gave birth to her third child. That child died last week due to poor conditions in the refugee camp. She had already lost the other two children due to the conditions in ISIS territory.
The debate has shifted from should she be allowed back to is the West responsible for the death of Shamima Begum’s newborn son.
The answer is no, the West is not responsible. Shamima Begum made a decision and the death of her son was a consequence of the decision. We can have compassion for Shamima Begum and the situation she is in, the decision she made as a teenager, the loss of life suffered by her children. Yet, we also have to stay calm and rational about how we move forward.
We can have empathy and we can have that empathy inform our decisions. However, empathy in itself is not a strategy. Responding solely based on emotion is not a strategy; it is a reaction. The solution is to find a way for those children never to have been born in those conditions in the first place.
Having a baby is not a ‘pass go’ card. While the West tries to figure out what to do with the radicalized abroad, the West is not required to subscribe to someone else’s conditions and timeline on if and how reintegration or deradicalization takes place.