ISIS bride Shamima Begum loses appeal to regain British citizenship

PTI, Feb 23, 2024, 5:55 PM IST

FILE - This is an undated photo of Shamima Begum. (Credit: PA via AP, File)

London: Shamima Begum, the London-born Bangladeshi-origin woman, who fled the UK as a 15-year-old schoolgirl to join the Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist network, on Friday lost yet another legal bid to regain her British citizenship and return to the UK.

Previously in 2022, the UK Supreme Court upheld the decision to bar the now 24-year-old from returning to the UK.

After a series of legal battles, Begum lost a challenge at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) in February last year and then took her case to the Court of Appeal. However, the appeal judges agreed with the special tribunal’s decision and turned down the appeal.

Ms Begum may well have been influenced and manipulated by others but still have made a calculated decision to travel to Syria and align with ISIL [ISIS], said Judge Dame Sue Carr, delivering the verdict in London.

Begum, who is in a refugee camp in northern Syria, was represented at her appeal by barrister Samantha Knights who had argued that the government had failed to consider legal duties owed to a potential victim of trafficking. The UK Home Office stressed that the main focus of the case was around national security.

The British government has maintained Begum could seek a Bangladeshi passport given her heritage but her family has argued that she is British and has never held Bangladeshi citizenship.

Last year, the specialist tribunal had accepted then Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s conclusion that revoking her British citizenship was an integral part of the overall national security assessment carried out by the Security Service and therefore not a matter for the court.

Begum, referred to as an ISIS bride for marrying a Dutch member of the terror network in Syria, gave birth to three children all of whom later died. She and two fellow teenage schoolgirls at Bethnal Green Academy travelled from east London to Syria in 2015.

Begum’s lawyers have sought to establish that she was recruited, transported, transferred, harboured and received in Syria for the purposes of sexual exploitation’ and marriage’ to an adult male.

However, the tribunal ultimately concluded in February 2023 that the Home Secretary was not formally required to consider whether Begum was a victim of trafficking when he removed her citizenship.

Begum currently lives in a detention camp in northern Syria and has been fighting to return to her home in east London, claiming the only law she broke was to travel to Syria and had not participated in any ISIS atrocities.

By Aditi Khanna

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