Shamima Begum is “considered to pose a very real and current threat to national security”, the Supreme Court heard today.
Representing the Home Office in the hearing, Sir James Eadie emphasised the dangers of Begum, brought up in Tower Hamlets and whose family still live there, returning to the UK in order to appeal the deprivation of her British citizenship.
Sir James presented extracts of MI5’s safety assessments to the court and stated that “The exposure of the public to an increased risk of terrorism is not justifiable or appropriate in this case on fairness grounds.”
Begum was 15 when she left Bethnal Green for Syria to join ISIS in 2015 along with Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana. Sir James argued that this is an irrelevant detail when considering the risk assessment.
“Whether or not radicalised before departure and when young does not alter the threat assessment” said Sir James. “Determining whether she should be allowed to return to the UK should be determined by current risk.”
Begum married former ISIS fighter, Yago Riedjik ten days after arriving in Syria. The couple had three children, all of which died. Sultana married an ISIS fighter who was later killed in battle, she was killed in an airstrike shortly after. Abase married an Australia jihadist, there have been contrasting reports of their whereabouts between intelligence agencies and Begum.
Sir James added that her current situation was “self-inflicted”, as she chose to align with ISIS. He referenced previous interviews of Begum that show her lack of her remorse. A journalist for The Times, Anthony Loyd, found Begum pregnant in a Syrian refugee camp last year. Sir James quoted her comments on beheadings and how seeing decapitated heads did not phase her.
Begum’s citizenship was revoked in 2019 by Secretary of State, Sajid Javid. She appealed this decision to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission tribunal (SIAC) and was unsuccessful.
The hearing has come as a result of SIAC finding that Begum cannot play a meaningful part in her appeal while she is detained in Syria, and so she should be granted leave to enter the UK so that she can make her appeal. The Secretary of State is appealing her entry to the UK.
Begum’s legal representative, Lord Pannick said: “She has a statutory right to a meaningful appeal, which from our position is not subject to any national security exception.”
He added “National security considerations cannot be the answer to the right to a meaningful appeal.”
The hearing will continue tomorrow at 10:30am remotely via the Supreme Court’s website: Watch live – the Supreme Court
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