ISIS bride Shamima Begum loses appeal over U.K. citizenship

In this file photo taken on February 22, 2015 Renu Begum, eldest sister of missing British girl Shamima Begum, holds a picture of her sister while being interviewed by the media in central London.   | Photo Credit: AFP

London-born Islamic State (ISIS) recruit Shamima Begum lost an appeal against the U.K. government’s revocation of her British citizenship on security grounds.

Ms. Begum, who was 15 years old when she secretly fled her home in east London in 2015 to join the terrorist group in Syria, is living in a camp run by Kurdish forces in northern Syria.

A special British immigration tribunal ruled on February 7 that she was a Bangladeshi citizen by descent which meant that she had not been rendered homeless by former U.K. Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s decision to revoke her British citizenship.

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), a specialist tribunal that hears challenges to decisions of removing British citizenship on national security grounds, said Ms. Begum was in the situation “as a result of her own choices, and of the actions of others, but not because of anything the Secretary of State [Javid] had done”.

Ms. Begum’s solicitor, Daniel Furner of Birnberg Peirce, said the now 20-year-old will take her case to the Court of Appeal “as a matter of exceptional urgency”.

“The logic of the decision will appear baffling, accepting as it does the key underlying factual assessments of extreme danger and extreme unfairness and yet declining to provide any legal remedy,” said Mr. Furner.

“As matters stand, Ms. Begum’s right to pursue an appeal against the Home Secretary’s deprivation of her citizenship has been, in effect, rendered meaningless,” he said.

She had been tracked down in northern Syria in February last year by The Times newspaper, when she was nine months pregnant with her third child.

Bangladeshi citizenship

Mr. Javid stripped her of citizenship soon after, on the grounds that she could claim Bangladeshi nationality through her parents.

His successor as the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, also backed that decision and ruled out the prospect of her return to the U.K.

“We cannot have people who would do us harm allowed to enter our country — and that includes this woman,” said Ms. Patel, in reference to Begum, who had pleaded with the authorities to allow her to return to her family in the U.K.

Under U.K. law, a person can legally have their citizenship revoked but cannot be made stateless.

The U.K. government maintains that Ms. Begum has access to Bangladeshi dual citizenship through her parents, even though the Bangladesh government has since denied any such rights.

Ms. Begum left the U.K. in February 2015 and lived under ISIS rule for more than three years.

She became known as a so-called ISIS bride because she was married to Yago Riedijk, a Dutch ISIS fighter, soon after arriving in Syria.

Anyone appealing to SIAC, usually remains anonymous, but Ms. Begum waived her right to anonymity.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2021 12:02:05 PM |

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