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HomeNewsUK court upholds decision to strip ISIS teen of citizenship.

UK court upholds decision to strip ISIS teen of citizenship.

UK court upholds decision to strip ISIS teen of citizenship.

Shamima Begum, who at the age of 15 left the United Kingdom to join ISIS, has lost her appeal against the decision to revoke her British citizenship.

Following a five-day hearing in November, during which her attorneys argued the UK Home Office was obligated to investigate whether she was a victim of human trafficking before revoking her citizenship, Judge Robert Jay rendered his decision on Wednesday.

The decision does not determine whether Begum can return to the United Kingdom, but rather whether the revocation of her citizenship was legal.

Begum, now 23 years old and residing in a camp in northern Syria, flew to the country in 2015 with two classmates to join the terrorist organization ISIS. In February 2019, she resurfaced and made international headlines as an “ISIS bride” after pleading with the United Kingdom government to be allowed to return home for the birth of her son.

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On February 19, 2019, then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid revoked her British citizenship, and Begum’s newborn son died in a Syrian refugee camp the following month. She told British media that she had two other infants who died in Syria before this child.

Begum’s attorneys criticized Wednesday’s ruling as a “missed opportunity to rectify a grave error and an ongoing injustice.”

“The result is that there is now no protection for a British child trafficked out of the UK if the home secretary invokes national security,” Birnberg Pierce Solicitors Gareth Pierce and Daniel Furner said in a statement seen by PA Media.

Begum remains unlawfully, arbitrarily, and indefinitely detained in a Syrian camp without trial. This decision will be challenged in every possible way,” the statement continued.

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Amnesty International characterized the decision as “extremely disappointing.”

The group’s UK refugee and migrant rights director, Steve Valdez-Symonds, said in a statement, “The ability to expel a citizen in this manner should not exist in the modern world, especially when we’re talking about a person who was severely exploited as a child.”

This young British woman, along with thousands of others, including a large number of women and children, is currently trapped in a dangerous refugee camp in a war-torn country and is largely at the mercy of gangs and armed groups.

Valdez-Symonds stated, “The home secretary should not be in the business of expelling British citizens by revoking their citizenship.”

The home secretary who revoked Begum’s British citizenship, Javid, applauded Wednesday’s ruling, tweeting that it “upheld my decision to revoke a person’s citizenship on national security grounds.”

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“This is a complicated case, but home secretaries should have the authority to prevent anyone who poses a threat to our country from entering,” Javid added.

Begum has made multiple public appeals in her fight against the government’s decision, most recently in the BBC documentary The Shamima Begum Story and a 10-part BBC podcast series.

She insisted in the podcast series that she is “not a bad person.” Begum acknowledged that the British public viewed her as a “danger” and a “risk,” but blamed her media portrayal for this perception.

She appealed the decision of the British government to revoke her citizenship, but in June 2019 the government denied her request to enter the country to pursue her appeal.

The UK Court of Appeal ruled in 2020 that Begum should be granted entry into the country because “a fair and effective hearing” would not be possible otherwise.

The following year, the Supreme Court reversed the decision, arguing that the Court of Appeal committed four errors when it ruled that Begum could return to the United Kingdom to pursue her appeal.

Journey to Syria

Begum was 15 years old when she traveled to Syria with two classmates from Gatwick Airport.

The teenagers, all from the Bethnal Green Academy in east London, were to meet a classmate who had made the same journey several months prior.

Begum married an ISIS fighter in Syria and lived for several years in Raqqa. In 2019, Begum reappeared in al-Hawl, a refugee camp for 39,000 Syrians.

Before giving birth, Begum told the British newspaper The Times that she desired to return home from the refugee camp. She stated that she had already lost two infant children to malnutrition and illness.

In February of that year, she delivered her son, Jarrah, in al-Hawl. After being transferred from the camp to the main hospital in al-Hasakah City, the infant’s health rapidly deteriorated, and he died.

In response to this news, a spokesperson for the British government told CNN at the time, “the death of any child is tragic and profoundly distressing for the family.”

The spokesperson added that since 2011, the British Foreign Office has “consistently advised against travel to Syria.”