Shamima Begum, ‘ISIS Bride’ Loses Appeal to Get British Citizenship Back

Photo by Laura Lean - WPA Pool/Getty Images

LONDON (AP) – A woman who traveled to Syria as a teenager to join the Islamic State group has lost her appeal against the British government’s decision to revoke her U.K. citizenship.

Shamima Begum, who is now 24, was 15 when she and two other girls fled from London in February 2015 to marry IS fighters in Syria at a time when the group´s online recruitment program lured many impressionable young people to its self-proclaimed caliphate. Begum married a Dutch man fighting for IS and had three children, who all died.

Authorities withdrew her British citizenship on national security grounds soon after she surfaced in a Syrian refugee camp in 2019.

Her lawyers brought a bid to overturn that decision at the Court of Appeal, with Britain’s Home Office opposing the challenge.

All three judges dismissed her case.

“It could be argued the decision in Ms. Begum´s case was harsh,” Chief Justice Sue Carr said in relaying the ruling. “It could also be argued that Ms. Begum is the author of her own misfortune. But it is not for this court to agree or disagree with either point of view.”

She concluded by saying that the court’s sole task was to assess whether the decision to strip Begum of her citizenship was unlawful.

“Since it was not, Ms Begum´s appeal is dismissed,” the judge added.

Carr said any arguments over the consequences of the unanimous judgment, which could include a bid to appeal at Britain’s Supreme Court, will be adjourned for seven days.

Begum, who is still in the Syrian refugee camp, argued that the decision by Britain’s then interior minister Sajid Javid, left her stateless and that she should have been treated as a child trafficking victim, not a security risk.

The British government claimed she could seek a Bangladeshi passport based on family ties. But Begum´s family argued that she was from the U.K. and never held a Bangladeshi passport.


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