Shamima Begum: ISIS bride loses legal case over British citizenship and cannot return to UK

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Begum left her home in London in 2015 when she was 15 years-old and travelled to Syria where she married a 27 year-old ISIS fighter.

ISIS bride Shamima Begum has had her appeal against the decision to strip her of her British citizenship dismissed as she is a threat to national security. Begum was stripped of her citizenship in 2019 by then Home Secretary, Sajid Javid.

The decision means the now 23 year-old Begum is still banned from returning to the United Kingdom. The Special Immigration Appeals Commision said it made the decision after it received national security advice on the threat posed by Begum to the UK.

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Delivering the verdict on Wednesday morning, Mr. Justice Jay said: “The commission has fully recognised the considerable force in the submissions advanced on behalf of Ms Begum that the Secretary of State’s conclusion, on expert advice, that Ms Begum travelled voluntarily to Syria is as stark as it is unsympathetic. Further, there is some merit in the argument that those advising the Secretary of State see this as a black and white issue, when many would say that there are shades of grey.”

Mr. Justice Jay concluded: “The commission concluded that there was a credible suspicion that Ms Begum had been trafficked to Syria within the meaning of relevant international legal instruments. Essentially, and from the perspective of those responsible for the trafficking, the motive for bringing her to Syria was sexual exploitation to which, as a child, she could not give a valid consent."

A spokesperson for the Home Office said it was “pleased” at the decision. “We are pleased that the court has found in favour of the government’s position in this case. The government’s priority remains maintaining the safety and security of the UK and we will robustly defend any decision made in doing so.”

Shamima Begum. (Photo by Laura Lean - WPA Pool/Getty Images)Shamima Begum. (Photo by Laura Lean - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Shamima Begum. (Photo by Laura Lean - WPA Pool/Getty Images) | Getty Images

The hearing took place over five days in November last year during which time Begum’s barristers Samantha Knights, KC and Dan Squires, KC argued she had been a victim of human trafficking. Begum is currently in a camp in northern Syria. After marrying an ISIS fighter in 2015 she went on to give birth to three children, all of whom died.

Begum has a right to appeal the Special Immigration Appeals Commision’s decision.

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