British IS bride will not regain citizenship even on appeal

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Shamima Begum in a photo shown to her family shortly after her disappearance in 2015
NOS News

A woman who was born in the UK and left for Syria at the age of 15 to join the Islamic State will not regain her British nationality. That is what the judge decided in the last appeal of the woman. That means the woman cannot return to Britain. Her lawyers do not accept the verdict.

The British government revoked Shamima Begum’s citizenship in 2019 due to national security concerns. That was not long after she was found by journalists in a detention camp in Syria.

The case was heard by a judge of the Special Appeals Committee on Immigration, a British tribunal that hears appeals against the removal of citizenship.

The Ministry of the Interior welcomes the ruling. “The highest priority for the government is to ensure the security of the United Kingdom and we will vigorously defend any decisions made in that regard.”

Human trafficking

Begum is detained in the al-Roj detention camp in northeastern Syria. According to her, the ministry did not properly investigate whether she was a victim of human trafficking as a minor. The judge credits the suspicion that she was smuggled to Syria for sexual exploitation and says that the state made mistakes regarding her journey from London via Turkey to Syria in 2015. But the fact that she may be a victim of human trafficking, he says not enough reason to give her her passport back.

According to her lawyers, Begum was smuggled into Syria with the help of a Canadian who worked for IS. That was already said in 2015. According to the government, that intermediary is not responsible for Begum’s journey to Syria. Most Syria travelers traveled through an intermediary, the government said. The judge, on the other hand, says it is a “logical assumption” that the people who helped Begum and her friends with the journey also encouraged them.

According to the country’s lawyers, Begum was in the territory of the terrorist organization IS for four years, until the so-called caliphate collapsed in 2019. There’s no way anyone who traveled to Syria in 2015 didn’t know what IS was doing there, a British intelligence official said at the trial.

Dutch Syrian traveler

A fierce debate is raging in Britain over whether Begum knowingly joined IS or whether she didn’t know what she was getting into as a child. She traveled to Syria with two school friends.

In Syria, Begum married the Dutch Syrian refugee Yago Riedijk. They had three children, all of whom died young. Riedijk surrendered in February 2019 and is in a Kurdish prison. He was sentenced in absentia in the Netherlands for joining a terrorist organization. Begum ended up in al-Roj with thousands of other foreign women and their children. She is now 23.

Hundreds of women have now returned to their country of birth or are awaiting repatriation. Britain is one of the few countries that hardly returns women from northeastern Syria, says Reprieve, a group of lawyers who fight against human rights abuses.

  • British IS bride is not allowed to return to the United Kingdom
  • IS bride loses British nationality
  • Child Syrians Riedijk and Begum died
  • Abroad

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