‘ISIS bride’ loses citizenship appeal
Shamima Begum, who left the UK at 15 to join the Islamic State terror group, has lost an appeal against an earlier decision to strip her of her British citizenship. Despite Begum’s admission that she voluntarily traveled to the ‘Caliphate,’ her lawyers tried to make the case that she was trafficked.
Begum was stripped of her citizenship in 2019 on grounds of national security, after she was discovered in a detention camp in Syria following the defeat of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). She had left London four years earlier to join the group, marrying a jihadist shortly after arriving in Syria and having three children, all of whom died.
Begum, now 23, challenged the government’s decision at a secret hearing in November, but the Special Immigration Appeals Commission ruled on Wednesday that it was lawful.
In his ruling, Judge Robert Jay wrote that while the national security threat posed by Begum is debatable, this issue is “for the secretary of state to evaluate and not for the commission.”
Begum’s legal team argued that then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid failed to consider whether the teenager had been a victim of child trafficking when she left for Syria in 2015. Jay wrote that while “there was a credible suspicion that Ms Begum had been trafficked to Syria” and sexually exploited, the evidence of this was insufficient to trump Javid’s national security concerns.
Since she was discovered in Syria, Begum has spoken extensively to the press, becoming one of the most widely-known ‘ISIS brides.’ She told reporters in 2019 that she didn’t regret making the trip, and that the sight of severed heads “didn’t faze me at all.” In further interviews she described terror attacks on British soil as “justified,” but insisted that she was ready to return to the UK and live a regular life.
Despite losing her British citizenship, Begum is not stateless, and is a citizen of Bangladesh by descent. However, she has made no attempts to seek transfer to Bangladesh, where Foreign Minister Abdul Momen warned in 2019 that she would face the death penalty for terrorism.