Jihadi girlfriend Shamima Begum will not be allowed to return to Britain or have her citizenship restored, a judge ruled today.
Begum was 15 when she and two other schoolgirls from east London traveled to Syria to join ISIS in February 2015.
Her British citizenship was revoked on national security grounds by then Home Secretary Sajid Javid shortly after she was found, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019.
Since then, the 23-year-old has been locked in a legal battle with the government, recently challenging the Home Office in the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) over the decision.
Before the sentence was handed down, Defense Minister Johnny Mercer said he was confident the judges would reach the “correct conclusion” on the appeal against the revocation of citizenship.
Jihadist girlfriend Shamima Begum (pictured) today lost a legal battle to claim her British citizenship
Ms Begum’s British citizenship was revoked on national security grounds by then Home Secretary Sajid Javid shortly after she was found nine months pregnant in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019.
In a round of interviews this morning, Mr Mercer said the question of whether Ms Begum should be allowed to return to the UK was “a decision for the Home Secretary and previous Home Secretary”.
“Certainly, Sajid Javid, when he was Minister of the Interior, made the decision to revoke his citizenship. That is their decision,’ he said.
Of course she clearly represents a threat. But there is a lot of information in that case that is not in the public domain.
I don’t think it’s worth discussing in public. I believe that such decisions are made in the courts and in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and I am sure that they will come to the right conclusion.
However, the Shadow Attorney General for the Labor Party, Emily Thornberry, argued that she should have been returned to the UK to face justice.
“At first glance, she clearly committed crimes, so she should be returned to the UK to face justice,” Sky News said.
“While it appears she can claim Bangladeshi citizenship, she is currently stateless in a refugee settlement.”
During a five-day hearing in November, Ms Begum’s lawyers said the Home Office had a duty to investigate whether she was a victim of trafficking before stripping her of her British citizenship.
The specialized court heard that she was “recruited, transported, transferred, harbored and received in Syria for the purposes of ‘sexual exploitation’ and ‘marriage’ to an adult male.”
At an earlier hearing in February 2020, SIAC ruled that the decision to strip her of British citizenship was legal as Ms Begum was a “Bangladeshi citizen by descent” at the time of the decision.
Begum’s citizenship was revoked on national security grounds by then-Interior Secretary Sajid Javid shortly after she was found in a Syrian refugee camp. She is seen in 2015 (left) and escaping through Gatwick airport (right)
However, her lawyers said in November that the decision made Ms Begum ‘de facto stateless’, where she had no practical right to citizenship in Bangladesh, and the Bangladeshi authorities stated that they would not allow her to enter the country.
Lawyers for the Interior Ministry defended the government’s decision, arguing that people trafficked to Syria and brainwashed may still be threats to national security, adding that Ms Begum expressed no remorse when she initially left the territory controlled by ISIS.
Sir James Eadie KC, of the department, said there was “no ‘credible suspicion’ that she was a victim of trafficking or was at real and immediate risk of being trafficked prior to her journey from the UK.”
Sir James said then Home Secretary Javid took into account Ms Begum’s age, how she traveled to Syria, including likely online radicalisation, and her activity in Syria in making the decision to strip her of British citizenship.
It added that the Security Services “continue to assess that Ms. Begum poses a risk to national security.”
Earlier this month, Ms Begum’s mother-in-law called for the fugitive ISIS bride to be allowed to return to the UK so she can rebuild her life.
Speaking for the first time, Ankie Riedijk, the mother of Begum’s jihadist husband Yago, insisted that while both must face justice for traveling to Syria to join ISIS, their governments must take responsibility for their radicalization.
Speaking exclusively to MailOnline, she said: “I am convinced that Shamima must be allowed to go home and build her life there.”
In the first interview she has given since, like Begum, her Muslim convert son fled to Syria, Ms Riedijk laid out what she believes should happen to the daughter-in-law she never knew.
Standing on the doorstep of her elegant £180,000 home in Arnhem, a sleepy city in the Netherlands, Ms Riedijk said that she and her husband Lex, a railway engineer, have always been reluctant to get involved in the furor over Begum’s future.
However, Ms Riedijk believes that Shamima and her son Yago should be returned to their home country, where they should stand trial for their actions, effectively stateless without a passport and living in a refugee camp in Syria. She was reluctant to go into detail, but Ms Reidijk seemed to suggest that governments should take responsibility for their own radicalized young citizens rather than leave them in stateless limbo.