Jihadi Bride’s Family Challenge Government Decision to Strip Citizenship

March 21, 2019 Updated: March 21, 2019

Jihadi bride, Shamima Begum’s family has formally launched a court challenge against the British government’s decision to strip her of citizenship, arguing that other Britons that joined ISIS have been allowed back into the country.

Tasnime Akunjee, the lawyer representing Begum’s family, told The Guardian that revoking her citizenship and blocking her return to the UK violates her human rights.

“We are arguing the decision is wrong because it renders Shamima Begum stateless, it puts her life at risk, exposes her to inhumane and degrading treatment, and breaches her right to family life,” Akunjee told the Guardian.

Renu, the eldest sister of Shamima Begum, holds her sister’s photo during a media interview at New Scotland Yard in London on Feb. 22, 2015. (Laura Lean/PA Wire/Getty Images)
Renu, the eldest sister of Shamima Begum, holds her sister’s photo during a media interview at New Scotland Yard, in London, on Feb. 22, 2015. (Laura Lean/PA Wire/Getty Images)

Citing a persistent security risk posed by the unrepentant Begum, British Home Secretary Sajid Javid revoked her citizenship in a move allowed under law if it does not leave the individual stateless.

Javid wrote in a letter to Begum’s family that he believed she would be eligible for Bangladeshi citizenship.

Bangladesh Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said there is “no question” of his country opening its doors to Begum, who in interviews said she did not regret joining ISIS and seemed to excuse terror attacks on civilians.

Begum ran away from her London home in 2015 and at the age of 15 traveled to Syria with two other girls to join the ISIS terror group.

She married a Dutch terrorist fighter and gave birth to three children, all of whom have died due to malnutrition and illness.

The 19-year-old Begum surfaced in a refugee camp last month, where she appealed to be allowed back into the UK, claiming in an interview with Sky News that during her four years with the jihadis she was “just a housewife” and “never did anything dangerous.”

‘No Regrets’

Begum said in an interview with The Times of London that while she did not agree with everything the terror group had done, she has “no regrets” about joining ISIS and suggested that air strikes against the terror group in Syria somehow “justified” the Manchester Arena terror attack.

“It’s a two-way thing, really,” she told the BBC, adding that the suicide bomber that killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester was a “kind of retaliation” for bombardments of ISIS-held enclaves, adding, “So I thought, ok, that is a fair justification.”

Asked about her take on the particularly graphic atrocities the jihadi extremists are known to have carried out, Begum told The Times of London that seeing “beheaded heads” in bins “did not faze her.” When asked by a Sky News reporter, “Did you know what Islamic State [ISIS] were doing when you left for Syria?”

“Because they had beheaded people. There were executions,” she replied, “Yeah, I knew about those things and I was okay with it.”

‘Potentially Very Dangerous’

Security experts such as British intelligence service head Alex Younger have warned, however, that would-be returnees like Begum were “potentially very dangerous” because they were in “that sort of position,” people like her were likely to have acquired certain “skills or connections.”

Survivors and other victims of the murderous cult’s reign of terror, meanwhile, are furious at the prospect of ISIS women getting a sympathetic hearing in the Western press, or worse—a free pass.

Ali Y. Al-Baroodi, who survived ISIS’s bloody occupation of Mosul, told the Jerusalem Post that claims on the part of jihadi brides that they were “just housewives,” as Begum has insisted, are not credible.

“It was hell on Earth and every single one of them made it so,” he said, asking sarcastically if perhaps local victims of the jihadi women should “apologize for disturbing their stay there.”

“[ISIS] demolished cities and hundreds of mass graves, [and left] thousands of orphans and widows,” he added.

“It’s impossible to muster sympathy for her,” author and academic Idrees Ahmad wrote in reference to Begum, according to the Post. “She went to Syria as a colonizer, several months after ISIS beheaded journalists and aid workers.”

The Family’s Appeal

Begum’s family lawyer said that the decision to strip her of citizenship is unfair because hundreds of British citizens who went to ISIS territory have been allowed back into the UK.

“The government has accepted that 400 people have picked up a gun and actively fought for ISIS and then been allowed back to Britain,” Akunjee said, according to The Metro. “So how can it be proportionate for a 19-year-old girl who had a child not to be allowed to return, when the others have been allowed to return?”

The British Home secretary, meanwhile, has stood behind the government’s decision to revoke Begum’s citizenship and keep her out of the country.

Javid was cited by the BBC as saying he would not “shy away from using those powers at my disposal to protect this country” and urged British citizens never to support the cause of terror.