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Why Shamima Begum’s lawyers think she will win return to UK at Supreme Court: Expert reveals tactics her legal team will use to overthrow ruling that Isis bride should be banned from country


Lawyers for ISIS bride Shamima Begum have said they think she will win the right to return to the UK at the Supreme Court after appeal judges yesterday ruled against her appeal over the removal of her British citizenship.

Experts have revealed the tactics her legal team are likely to use in their attempt to overthrow the ruling, saying the issue of her effective ‘statelessness’ – not being a citizen of any country – could be grounds for another appeal.

Outside court yesterday, her solicitor David Furner said: ‘We are not going to stop fighting until she does get justice and until she is safely back home.’ 

Begum travelled to Syria to join ISIS in 2015 aged 15 and her citizenship was revoked on national security grounds shortly after she was found in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019.

Last year, the 24-year-old lost a challenge against the decision at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), which said the removal of her citizenship was lawful.

Lawyers for ISIS bride Shamima Begum (pictured with her now passed week-old son) have said they think she will win the right to return to the UK at the Supreme Court after appeal judges yesterday ruled against her appeal over the removal of her British citizenship

Lawyers for ISIS bride Shamima Begum (pictured with her now passed week-old son) have said they think she will win the right to return to the UK at the Supreme Court after appeal judges yesterday ruled against her appeal over the removal of her British citizenship 

ISIS bride Begum pictured as she is imprisoned in the Al-Roj camp in Syria

ISIS bride Begum pictured as she is imprisoned in the Al-Roj camp in Syria

CCTV from on February 23, 2015, shows Shamima Begum passing through security barriers at Gatwick Airport before

CCTV from on February 23, 2015, shows Shamima Begum passing through security barriers at Gatwick Airport before

Begum’s lawyers brought a bid to overturn that decision at the Court of Appeal, with the Home Office opposing the challenge. In a ruling yesterday morning, three judges dismissed her bid.

The jihadi bride’s legal team now look set to seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, and if this fails they could seek to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

One of Ms Begum’s lawyers, Gareth Peirce, claimed her ‘indefinite arbitrary detention’ ran contrary to international law after the ruling yesterday.

‘She and others, other women and children, are in what is not a refugee camp but a prison camp, and that is conceded by the United Kingdom, which has stated to the UN that it agrees that Geneva Convention articles apply,’ Ms Peirce said.

‘Unlawful as that is, there is no exit. There is no way that she can escape from unlawful imprisonment.’ Ms Peirce later said that conditions in the al-Roj camp where Ms Begum remains had worsened. The Red Cross has described the camp as ‘grim’ and ‘extremely volatile’.

A hearing in 2020 ruled that removing Begum’s British citizenship was legal as she was ‘a citizen of Bangladesh by descent’ when the decision was made. But her barristers argued that this made her ‘de facto stateless’ as authorities in Bangladesh have said they will not let her in the country.

After yesterday’s ruling, extradition barrister Alexander dos Santos told Sky News: ‘Rather than the Court of Appeal saying she was not de facto stateless, the Court of Appeal has essentially said that wasn’t something the home secretary [then Sajid Javid] needed to determine. It wasn’t the legal test being applied.

‘That potentially gives some scope to Shamima Begum’s lawyers to… push that issue and see if they can get back before the Supreme Court a second time on issues about whether or not that, in reality, meant the decision would have made her stateless and therefore in breach of international law.

‘So there is at least some potential for there to be an attempt to take things further, but as to whether or not that argument has really been thrashed out enough for the courts, or has enough of a legal foundation, for the Supreme Court to reconsider it is something for her lawyers now to decide having digested the decision.’

Shamima Begum appearing in a 2021 interview, where she begged for forgiveness and insisted she was a victim - not a terrorist or a criminal

Shamima Begum appearing in a 2021 interview, where she begged for forgiveness and insisted she was a victim – not a terrorist or a criminal

Begum was just 15 years old when she ran away to Syria to join ISIS with two friends from school

Just ten days after arriving she was married to a Dutchman named Yago Riedijk and the couple had three children

The former jihadi bride has been battling to come back to Britain since 2019 after she was discovered in a Syrian refugee camp

Speaking to MailOnline yesterday, Dr Marianne Wade, a Reader in criminal justice at Birmingham Law School, said Begum’s legal team would seek an appeal.

She told MailOnline: ‘Her team will it seems fight on. Despite her public notoriety, they likely also see value in continuing to force the public to ask themselves whether it is right that a – as they see her – vulnerable, groomed and exploited 15 year old should be judged as she has been and have to suffer such harsh, life-long consequences.

‘This is perhaps as much a political as legal argument and at its heart a battle between the Government and judiciary.

‘For Shamima Begum, of course, it is considerably more urgent than this evergreen, theoretical debate.’

Giving her ruling yesterday, Lady Chief Justice Baroness Carr said: ‘It could be argued the decision in Ms Begum’s case was harsh. 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. Our only task is to assess whether the deprivation decision was unlawful.

‘We have concluded it was not and the appeal is dismissed.’

Baroness Carr, sitting with Lord Justice Bean and Lady Justice Whipple, said any arguments over the consequences of the unanimous judgment, including any bid to appeal at the Supreme Court, will be adjourned for seven days.

Following the decision, director of human rights charity Reprieve Maya Foa said: ‘This whole episode shames ministers who would rather bully a child victim of trafficking than acknowledge the UK’s responsibilities.

‘Stripping citizenship in bulk and abandoning British families in desert prisons is a terrible, unsustainable policy designed to score cheap political points. Rather than demonise Shamima Begum, ministers should reckon with the institutional failures that enabled Isis to traffic vulnerable British women and girls.

‘What the courts have recognised today is that this was a political decision. It is now a political problem, and the government holds the key to solving it.

‘If the government thinks that Shamima Begum has committed a crime, she should be prosecuted in a British court. Citizenship stripping is not the answer.’

Begum's Dutch jihadi husband Yago Riedijk, who died fighting for ISIS in Syria

Begum’s Dutch jihadi husband Yago Riedijk, who died fighting for ISIS in Syria

Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary who took the decision to deprive Ms Begum of her British citizenship, greeted the judges’ ruling yesterday. ‘I welcome today’s court ruling, which has again upheld my decision to remove an individual’s citizenship on national security grounds,’ he wrote yesterday.

‘This is a complex case but Home Secretaries should have the power to prevent anyone entering our country who is assessed to pose a threat to it.’

Former immigration minister Mr Jenrick said: ‘This is the right decision. British citizenship is a great privilege. People who hate our country, threaten it, associate with those who murder our citizens and armed forces should not rely upon its blessings. National security must always come first.’

Ms Begum is currently living at the al-Roj camp in northern Syria, where conditions have been described by the Red Cross as ‘extremely volatile’.

She was originally able to cross the Syrian border with the help of a Canadian spy named Mohammed Al Rasheed, according to reports.

In a BBC podcast series, she said she was told to ‘pack nice clothes so you can dress nicely for your husband’.

Just ten days after arriving in the city of Raqqa, Ms Begum, who is of Bangladeshi heritage, was married to a Dutchman named Yago Riedijk, who had converted to Islam.

They had three children together, who all later died from malnourishment or disease. They were a one-year-old girl, a three-month-old boy and newborn son.

Timeline: How Shamima Begum’s dream of joining ISIS saw her exiled

2015

  • February 17 – Kadiza Sultana, Amira Abase and Shamima Begum leave their east London homes at 8am to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, from Gatwick Airport. Begum and Abase are reported missing by their families later the same day.
  • February 18 – Ms Sultana is reported missing to the police.
  • February 20 – The Metropolitan Police launch a public appeal for information on the missing girls who are feared to have gone on to Syria.  The Met expresses concerns that the missing girls may have fled to join ISIS. 
  • February 21 – Four days after the girls went missing, police believe they may still be in Turkey. 
  • February 22 – Ms Abase’s father Abase Hussen says his daughter told him she was going to a wedding on the day she disappeared. 
  • March 10 – It emerges that the girls funded their trip by stealing jewellery.

2016

  • August 2016 – Ms Sultana, then 17, is reported to have been killed in Raqqa in May when a suspected Russian air strike obliterates her house.

2019

  • February 13 – Ms Begum, then 19, tells Anthony Loyd of The Times that she wants to return to the UK to give birth to her third child.
  • Speaking from the Al-Hawl refugee camp in northern Syria, Ms Begum tells the paper: ‘I’m not the same silly little 15-year-old schoolgirl who ran away from Bethnal Green four years ago. And I don’t regret coming here.’
  • February 15 – Home secretary Sajid Javid says he ‘will not hesitate’ to prevent the return of Britons who travelled to join IS.
  • February 17 – Ms Begum gives birth to her third child – a baby boy, Jarrah – in Al-Hawl. Her two other children, a daughter called Sarayah and a son called Jerah, have both previously died.
  • February 19 – The Home Office sends Ms Begum’s family a letter stating that it intends to revoke her British citizenship.
  • February 20 – Ms Begum, having been shown a copy of the Home Office’s letter by ITV News, describes the decision as ‘unjust’. 
  • February 22 – Ms Begum’s family write to Mr Javid asking for his help to bring her newborn son to Britain. Her sister Renu Begum, writing on behalf of the family, said the baby boy was a ‘true innocent’ who should not ‘lose the privilege of being raised in the safety of this country’.
  • Late February – Ms Begum is moved to the Al-Roj camp in north-eastern Syria, reportedly because of threats to her life made at Al-Hawl following the publication of her newspaper interviews.
  • March 7 – Jarrah dies around three weeks after he was born.
  • March 19 – Ms Begum’s lawyers file a legal action challenging the decision to revoke her citizenship.
  • April 1 – In a further interview with The Times, Ms Begum says she was ‘brainwashed’ and that she wants to ‘go back to the UK for a second chance to start my life over again’. 
  • May 4 – Bangladesh’s foreign minister Abdul Momen says Ms Begum could face the death penalty for involvement in terrorism if she goes to the country, adding that Bangladesh had ‘nothing to do’ with her.  
  • September 29 – Home secretary Priti Patel says there is ‘no way’ she will let Ms Begum return to the UK, adding: ‘We cannot have people who would do us harm allowed to enter our country – and that includes this woman.’ 
  • October 22-25 – Ms Begum’s appeal against the revocation of her British citizenship begins in London. Her barrister Tom Hickman submits the decision has unlawfully rendered her stateless, and exposed her to a ‘real risk’ of torture or death.

2020 

  • February 7 – SIAC rules on Ms Begum’s legal challenge.
  • July 16 – Court of Appeal rules on the case and finds in Ms Begum’s favour.
  • November 23 – Supreme Court hears case. 

2021

  • February 26 – Supreme Court denies her right to enter UK to fight for British citizenship. 

2022

  • August 31 – The BBC trails its new ten-part podcast series, I’m Not A Monster: The Shamima Begum Story. 
  • November – At a five-day hearing at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), Ms Begum’s lawyers argue she was a child trafficking victim. 

2023 

  • February 22 – Ms Begum loses her appeal to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) against the bid to strip her of her British citizenship. 

2024 

  • February 23 – Court of Appeal judges dismiss Ms Begum’s appeal. 



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