The former finance minister of the United Kingdom told CNBC that the runaway schoolgirl who left Britain to join the so-called Islamic State should be allowed to return to the country.
Shamima Begum who traveled to Syria when she was 15 has been found in a refugee camp in northern Syria. Now 19, Begum is also heavily pregnant. In an interview carried out in the camp, Begum said she did not regret joining ISIS.
Adopting a tough tone Friday, the U.K. Home Secretary Sajid Javid said those who left the U.K. to join ISIS were "full of hate for our country" and that he "will not hesitate" to prevent the return of Britons who join the terror group.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference Saturday, former U.K. Finance Minister George Osborne told CNBC's Hadley Gamble that the government should allow Begum to return.
"I don't think it is possible for Britain to say this is all someone else's problem (and that) we are going to leave them in some other part of the world or not allow them to enter the U.K.," he said.
Osborne said that any ISIS member who did return to Britain would have to be "properly investigated" for potential terrorism offences.
"I think it's a bit of justice and actually a bit of compassion. Just making people stateless is not really a solution and it is asking other countries to deal with our problems when they've got their own problems," he added.
A late 2017 report by the Soufan Center put the figure for returned ISIS fighters at 5,600 from 33 different countries. It revealed that on average 20 to 30 percent of those from Europe are already back.
In the U.K., Sweden and Denmark, an estimated 50 percent have already returned.
MI5, the U.K.'s domestic counterintelligence agency, revealed in October of 2017 that it had 20,000 people on its counterterrorism radar.