Family of Bethnal Green IS teen considering legal action after she is stripped of her British citizenship
PUBLISHED: 08:58 20 February 2019 | UPDATED: 16:25 22 February 2019
The family of the Bethnal Green ‘Jihadii bride’ who has been stripped of her British citizenship are contemplating taking the government to court.
Yesterday it was revealed Shamima Begum, who fled the UK to join the Islamic State terror group in Syria aged 15, has been stripped of her British citizenship.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid ordered the move against the 19-year-old who wants to return to the UK with her newly-born child as the so-called caliphate crumbles.
She was part of a trio of girls from Bethnal Green Academy to travel to the war-torn nation to support the terror group in February 2015.
Her family’s lawyer, Tasnime Akunjee, has said that the family were “very disappointed” over the move and that they were “considering all legal avenues to challenge this decision”.
International law forbids nations from making people stateless by revoking their only citizenship, while government guidance from 2017 states that the Home Secretary has the power to order the deprivation if it would be “conducive to the public good”, and as long as they are not left without any citizenship.
However, her lawyer has told the Press Association that Ms Begum, who is of Bangladeshi heritage, was born in the UK, has never had a Bangladeshi passport and is not a dual citizen.
The Home Office said such decisions are “not taken lightly” and are carried out “in order to protect this country”.
“We do not comment on individual cases, but any decisions to deprive individuals of their citizenship are based on all available evidence and not taken lightly.”
ITV News reported a letter from the department was received by Ms Begum’s mother yesterday.
“Please find enclosed papers that relate to a decision taken by the Home Secretary, to deprive your daughter, Shamima Begum, of her British citizenship,” it read.
“In light of the circumstances of your daughter, the notice of the Home Secretary’s decision has been served of file today (19 February), and the order removing her British citizenship has subsequently been made.”
The letter asked the mother to inform her daughter of the decision, as well as her right to appeal.
The move comes after the teenager returned to the public eye when she was found heavily pregnant living in a refugee camp in northern Syria.
She gave birth to a boy over the weekend, having already lost two children, and made pleas for forgiveness and to be accepted back in the UK.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick has signalled she could be arrested and investigated if she returns to Britain.
When Ms Begum left the UK, the then chief of counter-terror policing Sir Mark Rowley suggested that she might be treated as a victim of grooming.
But on Tuesday Ms Dick said: “We’re a long way down the road since then.”
Earlier, Mr Javid told the House of Commons he had the power of “stripping dangerous dual nationals” of their British citizenship, adding: “Over 100 people have already been deprived in this way.”
Conservative former minister George Freeman criticised the move as a “mistake” that will set a “dangerous precedent”.
On Monday, in an interview with the BBC, Ms Begum compared the Manchester Arena bombing to military strikes on Isis strongholds, calling the terror attack “retaliation”.
There are currently plans to change the law to make travelling to certain terror hotspots a criminal offence, but this would not apply retrospectively to Ms Begum.
Around 425 suspected jihadi fighters are thought to have returned to the UK from Syria so far.