(SKY NEWS) — The British teenager who wants to return to the UK after running away to join Islamic State is “potentially very dangerous”, the head of MI6 has implied.
Shamima Begum, 19, says she does not regret joining IS, but wants to come back to the UK so that her unborn baby can be looked after.
She left for Syria in 2015 alongside fellow east London schoolgirls Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase.
While not commenting on Shamima Begum’s case specifically, intelligence service chief Alex Younger said that someone who had been in “that sort of position” was likely to have acquired certain “skills or connections”.
Such an individual cannot be stopped if they decide to return to the UK, he added.
But, if they do, a “very significant level of resource” is required to “make sure they don’t represent a threat”.
“Public safety is the first thing we will consider,” he said.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid has said he “will not hesitate” to prevent Shamima Begum’s return.
Speaking at a small breakfast meeting on the fringes of the Munich Security Conference, beginning in Germany today, Mr Younger described returning IS fighters as an “extremely complex and difficult problem”.
While it had been a “completely manageable problem” so far, Mr Younger added: “I can’t predict accurately what will happen in the future. We will be looking at every individual’s circumstances.
“Anyone who has put themselves in this situation can expect to be questioned and investigated and potentially prosecuted, if they return to our jurisdiction.
“We are very concerned about this because all experience tells us that once someone has been put in that sort of position, or put themselves in that sort of position, they are likely to have acquired the skills or connections that make them potentially very dangerous.”
Mr Younger, known as “C”, also warned about a resurgent threat from al Qaeda, as IS loses ground in Syria.
“I’m worried that the situation in Idlib is increasingly radicalised and so there certainly exists people we are very concerned about in that pocket,” he said.
“Much will depend on what happens next and if the ceasefire holds.”