Isis bride Shamima Begum loses court battle to let her back into UK

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Isis bride Shamima Begum loses court battle to let her back into UK View 101 comments Faye BrownFriday 26 Feb 2021 9:53 am Share this article via facebookShare this article via twitterShare this article via messenger 31k SHARES Shamima Begum 15 when she and two other schoolgirls travelled to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State group ISIS bride Shamima Begum has lost a legal bid to return to the UK to fight a decision to remove her British citizenship.
Shamima Begum
Shamima Begum 15 when she and two other schoolgirls travelled to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State group

The Supreme Court ruled she should not be allowed back into the country to make her case. The decision is a victory for the Government, who argued allowing her to return posed a risk to national security. Ms Begum was 15 when she and two other east London schoolgirls travelled to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State group (IS) in February 2015.

Her British citizenship was revoked on national security grounds shortly after she was found, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019. In July last year, the Court of Appeal ruled that the 21-year-old should be allowed to return to the UK to challenge that decision, saying it was ‘the only way in which she can have a fair and effective appeal’. But in November, the Home Office contested that decision at the Supreme Court, arguing that allowing her to return to the UK ‘would create significant national security risks’ and expose the public to ‘an increased risk of terrorism’.

Shamima Begum
Shamima Begum was stripped of her British citizenship after travelling to Syria to join ISIS (Picture:BBC)

The UK’s highest court upheld that challenge on Friday. Announcing the decision, Lord Reed said: ‘The Supreme Court unanimously allows all of the Home Secretary’s appeals and dismisses Ms Begum’s cross-appeal.’ Ms Begum can still pursue her appeal against the decision to take away her citizenship, but she cannot do that in Britain. Human rights group Liberty, which intervened in Ms Begum’s case, said the Supreme Court’s ruling sets ‘an extremely dangerous precedent’.

Rosie Brighouse, a lawyer with Liberty, said: ‘The right to a fair trial is not something democratic governments should take away on a whim, and nor is someone’s British citizenship. ‘If a Government is allowed to wield extreme powers like banishment without the basic safeguards of a fair trial it sets an extremely dangerous precedent.

‘The security services have safely managed the returns of hundreds of people from Syria but the Government has chosen to target Shamima Begum. ‘This approach does not serve justice, it’s a cynical distraction from a failed counter-terror strategy and another example of this Government’s disregard for access to justice and the rule of law.’

Shamima Begum
The Home Office argue her return would pose a risk to national security (Picture: ABC)

Shamima Begum
Left to right: Kadiza Sultana,16, Shamima Begum,15 and 15-year-old Amira Abase left the UK for Syria in 2015 (Picture: PA)

But Lord Reed said the right to a fair hearing ‘does not trump all other considerations, such as the safety of the public’. He added: ‘The appropriate response to the problem in the present case is for the deprivation hearing to be stayed – or postponed – until Ms Begum is in a position to play an effective part in it without the safety of the public being compromised.‘That is not a perfect solution, as it is not known how long it may be before that is possible. ‘But there is no perfect solution to a dilemma of the present kind.

’ During the hearing in November, lawyers for the former Bethnal Green Academy pupil said she was living in the al-Roj camp in northern Syria, where conditions are ‘dire’. Shamima Begum, in Western attire, avoids cameras at Syrian refugee camp Play Video Loaded: 0% 0:00Progress: 0% PlayMute Current Time0:00 / Duration Time0:21 Fullscreen Lord Pannick QC said that the Syrian Democratic Forces, which control the al-Roj camp, ‘do not permit visits from lawyers nor do they permit detainees to speak to lawyers’. He said the case against Ms Begum was ‘no more than that she travelled to Syria’ and ‘aligned with IS’, and that ‘it is not alleged that she fought, trained or participated in any terrorist activities, nor that she had any role within IS’.

Sir James Eadie QC, representing the Home Office, argued that individuals who went to Syria to join IS pose a ‘real and serious’ risk to national security ‘whatever sympathy might be generated by the age of the person when they travelled’. He told the court: ‘If you force the Secretary of State to facilitate a return to the UK, or if you allow the substantive appeal, the effect is to create potentially very serious national security concerns.

‘She married an IS fighter, lived in Raqqa, the capital of the self-declared caliphate, and remained with them for about four years until 2019, when she left from, in effect, the last pocket of IS territory in Baghuz.’ Ms Begum, along with Kadiza Sultana and Amira Abase, then 16 and 15 respectively, boarded a flight from Gatwick Airport to Istanbul, Turkey, on February 17 2015, before making their way to Raqqa in Syria. She claims she married Dutch convert Yago Riedijk 10 days after arriving in IS territory, with all three of her school friends also reportedly marrying foreign IS fighters. She told The Times in February 2019 that she left Raqqa in January 2017 with her husband, but her children, a one-year-old girl and a three-month-old boy, had both since died. Her third child died in the al-Roj camp in March 2019, shortly after he was born. Get in touch with our news team by emailing