UK Home Office Says Shamima Begum Still National Security Threat

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Shamima Begum. — Photo: [email protected])

Begum, now 21, was one of the three schoolgirls who left London to join ISIS in 2015. Her citizenship was revoked by the Home Office on security grounds

LONDON — Shamima Begum still presents a national security threat, the Supreme Court was told on Monday, at the start of a two-day trial challenging the decision to revoke Begum’s British citizenship and refuse her leave to enter the UK.

James Eadie QC, representing the Home Secretary, said Begum would present a national security risk if allowed to return to Britain, he added: “The exposure of the public to an increased risk of terrorism is not justifiable or appropriate in this case on fairness grounds.”

The court was told that Begum remained with ISIS ‘until the very end, she didn’t regret going and she wanted the caliphate to be victorious’.

Begum, now 21, was one of the three school girls who left London to join ISIS in 2015. Her citizenship was revoked by the Home Office on security grounds after she was found in a refugee camp in 2019. She is currently in Camp Roj in northern Syria.

The barrister representing the Home Secretary said, “Begum’s situation now in the al-Roj camp and the problems that create for her appeal are not the consequences of anything done by the secretary of state e on the contrary they are self-inflicted.”

According to the assessments conducted by MI5, people who lived under ISIS were exposed to “desensitising acts of brutality” as well as instruction in using firearms. Women and children “regularly carried weapons and received some level of military training,” the Court was told.

Begum’s lawyer, Lord Pannick QC, told the court: “Begum cannot play any meaningful part in her appeal [while she is in Syria].” Granting her leave to enter the UK is the only, effective way of letting her participate, he added.

“[That] is the only means to ensure procedural fairness in the unusual circumstances that arise in this case … Parliament cannot have envisaged that in circumstances where she cannot take part in any meaningful appeal the appeal should proceed.

“It’s difficult to conceive of any case where the court has said [someone] cannot have a fair trial but we will go on with it anyway.”

Begum’s Supreme Court trial which started on Monday is scheduled to last two days, with the court likely to give its ruling at a later date.

Begum left Bethnal Green, in east London, for Syria in February 2015. She was 15 when she left. Within days she had crossed the Turkish border and reached the ISIS headquarters at Raqqa, where she married a Dutch convert recruit. They had three children – all of whom have since died.

Former Home Secretary Sajid Javid had made the decision to strip Ms Begum of her citizenship in February 2019.

About 900 people had travelled to Iraq and Syria from the UK, around half of them returned, however, only 40 were successfully prosecuted. — IANS

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