ISIS bride Shamima Begum has described being stripped of her British citizenship as “unjust” and “hard to swallow” after she was shown documentation of the British government’s decision to rescind her status as a UK citizen.
Nineteen-year-old Begum—who has remained defiant about running away from her London home four years ago to join the jihad—is in a Syrian refugee camp with her newborn son. She has pleaded to be allowed back into the UK as American and other forces have decimated the Islamic terror group’s presence in the region and its so-called caliphate crumbles.
British authorities announced in a Feb. 19 letter that they had moved to revoke her citizenship, effectively banning her from entering the country.
Begum was shown the letter by ITV News Security Editor Rohit Kachroo at the refugee camp where she is currently staying.
‘A Bit Shocked’
“I don’t know what to say,” she told ITV News. “I am not that shocked but I am a bit shocked. It’s a bit upsetting and frustrating. I feel like it’s a bit unjust on me and my son.”
“It’s kind of heart-breaking to read. My family made it sound like it would be a lot easier for me to come back to the UK when I was speaking to them in Baghouz. It’s kind of hard to swallow.”
Begum said she believed she was being treated harshly because “I was on the news four years ago,” adding that she heard of “other people being sent back to Britain.”
“I don’t know why my case is any different,” she said.
She said she had a message for British authorities, requesting them “to maybe review my case again and have a bit more sympathy for me and understanding.”
“Give me a reason why they see me as a threat to the UK.”
In response to earlier suggestions that she might pose a security threat and her return should be blocked, Begum told Sky News she was “just a housewife” and that British authorities had no evidence of her “doing anything dangerous.”
“When I went to Syria I was just a housewife for the entire four years. Stayed at home, took care of my kids. I never did anything dangerous. I never made propaganda. I never encouraged people to come to Syria,” she added.
But the more recent interview with the BBC reveals that Begum had been featured in ISIS propaganda videos and thereby, according to Sommerville, she “helped the enemy of Britain.”
“I did hear a lot of people were encouraged to come after,” Begum said, “but I wasn’t the one who put myself on the news.”
She added, “The poster girl thing was not my choice.”
Begum also told the interviewer she might try to get Dutch citizenship through her husband.
“Another option I might try with my family is my husband is from Holland and he has family in Holland.
“Maybe I can ask for citizenship in Holland. If he gets sent back to prison in Holland I can just wait for him while he is in prison.”
Family Vows to Fight Using ‘All Legal Avenues’
The lawyer representing Begum has said her family is considering “all legal avenues to challenge the decision” by UK authorities to revoke her British citizenship, a move that is in conformity with the law if she is a dual citizen and is thus not left “stateless.”
British Home Secretary Sajid Javid was cited by the Daily Mail as saying that the decision to revoke Begum’s citizenship is “conducive to the public good” on grounds of preventing terrorism.
British officials notified Begum’s family in a Feb. 19 letter of “a decision taken by the Home Secretary, to deprive your daughter, Shamima Begum, of her British citizenship. In light of the circumstances of your daughter, the notice of the Home Secretary’s decision has been served of file today (19th February), and the order removing her British citizenship has subsequently been made.”
The letter noted Begum had a right to appeal.
— ITV News (@itvnews) February 19, 2019
In a statement cited by The Telegraph, the family’s lawyer Tasnime Akunjee said” [The] Family are very disappointed with the Home Office’s intention to have an order made depriving Shamima of her citizenship. We are considering all legal avenues to challenge this decision.”
Under the 1981 British Nationality Act, a person can be deprived of their citizenship if the home secretary is convinced it would be “conducive to the public good” and provided that the individual does not become stateless.
Begum was born in Britain but is believed to have—or be eligible for—Bangladeshi citizenship on grounds of her mother being a Bangladeshi national, BBC reported. Begum told the BBC in an interview that she does not currently hold a Bangladeshi passport.
The family’s legal case may rely on whether the move does, in fact, render Begum stateless. Akunjee told The Telegraph that since Begum did not have a passport, denial of a visa for Bangladesh would make her stateless.
Questions have also been raised about the nationality of her son, born in Syria while she was still a British national, and therefore by default—British. Officials could, theoretically, move to strip the child of British citizenship but it is unclear on what grounds and how this would stand up to a legal challenge.
The Home Office told Sky News through a spokesman that while it did not comment on individual cases, “Any decisions to deprive individuals of their citizenship are based on all available evidence and not taken lightly.”
“In recent days the home secretary has clearly stated that his priority is the safety and security of Britain and the people who live here,” a spokesman added.
Javid has previously said Begum will “face consequences” for backing ISIS and vowed, “Where individuals do manage to return, they will be questioned, investigated and potentially prosecuted.”
Begum left London four years ago with two school friends to join ISIS.
While Kadiza Sultana was reported to have been killed in an airstrike in 2016, Begum said she did not know what happened to her other friend, Amira Abase.
Begum was found in a Syrian refugee camp by The Times last week after reportedly leaving Baghouz, the final stronghold of ISIS in Syria.
Begum, who in the interview with The Times said she has “no regrets” about joining ISIS, gave birth to a baby boy over the weekend and has repeatedly pleaded to be allowed back into the UK, sparking a fiery national debate about returning ISIS sympathizers.