Three British-Bangladeshis ‘who went to Syria to join ISIS’ win appeal

A court has ruled that Priti Patel was wrong to remove British citizenship from two British-Bangladeshi women and one man said to have travelled to Syria to join ISIS.

It comes after the Supreme Court ruled last month that ISIS bride Shemima Begum cannot return to the UK to pursue an appeal against the removal of her British citizenship. 

The women, who were born in the UK and are known only as C3 and C4, had their British citizenship removed in November 2019 on the grounds of national security.

C7, a man born in Bangladesh who became a British citizen at birth, also had his British citizenship revoked in March 2020 on the basis that he had ‘aligned’ with IS and was a threat to UK national security.

All three appealed against the removal of their British citizenship at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) – a specialist tribunal which hears challenges to decisions to remove someone’s British citizenship on national security grounds – in November.

The Home Office argued that all three were dual British-Bangladeshi nationals at the time their British citizenship was removed, and so the decision did not render them stateless.

But their lawyers said all three lost their Bangladeshi citizenship when they turned 21, meaning the decision by the Home Secretary did leave them stateless and was therefore unlawful. 

A court has ruled that Priti Patel was wrong to remove British citizenship from two British-Bangladeshi women and one man said to have travelled to Syria to join ISIS

A court has ruled that Priti Patel was wrong to remove British citizenship from two British-Bangladeshi women and one man said to have travelled to Syria to join ISIS

A court has ruled that Priti Patel was wrong to remove British citizenship from two British-Bangladeshi women and one man said to have travelled to Syria to join ISIS

In a ruling on Thursday, Mr Justice Chamberlain said: ‘C3, C4 and C7 have persuaded us that, on the dates when the decisions and the orders in their cases were made, they were not nationals of Bangladesh or any other state apart from the UK.

‘This means that orders depriving them of their British citizenship would make them stateless.’

The judge added: ‘The Secretary of State had no power to make orders with that effect.

‘For that reason – and that reason alone – the appeals against the decisions to make those orders succeed.’

Maya Foa, director of human rights group Reprieve, said: ‘This ruling confirms that in the Home Secretary’s rush to abdicate responsibility for these women she broke domestic and international law by rendering them stateless.

‘Reprieve has established that many people from Britain currently detained in north-east Syria fit the definition of trafficked persons.

‘The Government was wrong to remove citizenship from these women.

‘Now that it has been restored, the Government should repatriate them so that the British justice system can address the full complexity of their cases, including the real possibility they are victims of trafficking.’

Meanwhile, Begum has revealed how she wanted to kill herself when her three children died in Syria as she begged Britain to give her a ‘second chance’ in a documentary about her life in a Syrian refugee camp.

She said she hoped British people would have an ‘open mind about why I left and who I am now as a person’ and urged the government to allow her to return home.

The 21-year-old, who was 15 when she and two other east London schoolgirls travelled to Syria to join the Islamic State, accused the British government of ‘making up’ stories that she worked for the ISIS morality police as an excuse to keep her out of the country.

In the film she cries when talking about losing her three children during the Syrian war and says that she wanted to kill herself because of the grief.

It comes after the Supreme Court ruled last month that ISIS bride Shemima Begum cannot return to the UK to pursue an appeal against the removal of her British citizenship

It comes after the Supreme Court ruled last month that ISIS bride Shemima Begum cannot return to the UK to pursue an appeal against the removal of her British citizenship

It comes after the Supreme Court ruled last month that ISIS bride Shemima Begum cannot return to the UK to pursue an appeal against the removal of her British citizenship

Timeline: How Shamima Begum’s dream of becoming a jihadi bride saw her stripped of her British citizenship for joining ISIS

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 – 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 – 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 – 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 – 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, 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 – 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 Begum’s family a letter stating that it intends to revoke her British citizenship.
  • February 20 – Begum, having been shown a copy of the Home Office’s letter by ITV News, describes the decision as ‘unjust’. 
  • February 22 – Begum’s family write to Mr Javid asking for his help to bring her newborn son to Britain. Shamima’s 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 – 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 – Begum’s lawyers file a legal action challenging the decision to revoke her citizenship.
  • April 1 – In a further interview with The Times, Begum says she was ‘brainwashed’ and that she wanted 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 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 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 – Begum’s appeal against the revocation of her British citizenship begins in London. Her barrister Tom Hickman QC 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 Begum’s legal challenge.
  • July 16 – Court of Appeal rules on the case and finds in 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.    

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But she does reveal some good news and says the father of the children is alive and sent her a birthday card wishing her well.

She also revealed how she ‘pines for a foot-long meatball Subway’ if she returns.   

Begum was 15 when she and two other east London schoolgirls travelled to Syria to join ISIS in February 2015.

Her British citizenship was revoked on national security grounds shortly after she was found, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019.

Begum challenged the Home Office’s decision to remove her British citizenship and wanted to be allowed to return to Britain to pursue her appeal.

The Court of Appeal ruled in July ‘the only way in which she can have a fair and effective appeal is to be permitted to come into the UK to pursue her appeal’.

The Home Office challenged that decision at the Supreme Court in November, arguing allowing her to return to the UK ‘would create significant national security risks’ and expose the public to ‘an increased risk of terrorism’.

Last month, the UK’s highest court ruled Begum should not be granted leave to enter the UK to pursue her appeal against the deprivation of her British citizenship.

It means she can still challenge the removal of her citizenship, but will have to do it from abroad – likely the al-Roj refugee camp where she is being held.

Begum was ‘angry’ and ‘cried’ after hearing of the ruling, Darin Issa, a Kurdish translator and fixer, told MailOnline via WhatsApp.  

‘She does not talk to us…she was in her tent…she does talk to us or any other journalist,’ Issa added.

Roj camp, which is located in north east Syria near the town of Al-Malikiyah houses most of the Western women whom joined ISIS and is considerably more developed than the Al-Hawl camp where she was initially taken after the collapse of ISIS caliphate.

Reacting to the ruling, Home Secretary Priti Patel said: ‘The Supreme Court has unanimously found in favour of the Government’s position, and reaffirmed the Home Secretary’s authority to make vital national security decisions.

‘The Government will always take the strongest possible action to protect our national security and our priority remains maintaining the safety and security of our citizens.’

Downing Street said it was ‘pleased’ with the decision, with a spokesman adding: ‘As we’ve said before, the Government’s priority is maintaining our national security.

‘Decisions to deprive individuals of their citizenship are not taken lightly. We’ll always ensure the safety and security of the UK, and will not allow anything to jeopardise this.’

Sajid Javid, who as home secretary at the time took the decision to revoke Begum’s British citizenship on national security grounds, also welcomed the ruling.

But human rights groups claimed it sets ‘an extremely dangerous precedent’ and accused the government of abandoning jihadi brides in ‘a legal black hole’.

Announcing the decision, President of the Supreme Court Lord Reed said: ‘The Supreme Court unanimously allows all of the Home Secretary’s appeals and dismisses Ms Begum’s cross-appeal.’

He said: ‘The right to a fair hearing does not trump all other considerations, such as the safety of the public.

‘If a vital public interest makes it impossible for a case to be fairly heard then the courts cannot ordinarily hear it.

‘The appropriate response to the problem in the present case is for the deprivation hearing to be stayed – or postponed – until Ms Begum is in a position to play an effective part in it without the safety of the public being compromised.

‘That is not a perfect solution, as it is not known how long it may be before that is possible. But there is no perfect solution to a dilemma of the present kind.’

He also slammed the Court of Appeal’s decision to allow her to return, saying there were four principal errors in its judgment.

Lord Reed said it wrongly ‘made its own assessment of the requirements of national security and preferred it to that of the Secretary of State, despite the absence of any relevant evidence before it’.

The judge said: ‘The Court of Appeal’s approach did not give the Secretary of State’s assessment the respect which it should have received, given that it is the Secretary of State who has been charged by Parliament with responsibility for making such assessments, and who is democratically accountable to Parliament for the discharge of that responsibility.’

Lord Reed continued: ‘There was no evidence before the court from the police, the Crown Prosecution Service or the Director of Public Prosecutions as to whether it was either possible or appropriate to ensure that Ms Begum was arrested on her return and charged with an offence.

‘Nor was it known whether, if she were arrested and charged, she would be remanded in custody: that would be a matter for the courts.’

The judge also said there was ‘no evidence, nor any submissions, before the Court of Appeal as to whether or not a Tpim [terrorism prevention and investigation measure] could or would be imposed on Ms Begum, or as to the effectiveness of any such measure in addressing the risk which she might pose.’ 

He concluded: ‘The Court of Appeal also appears to have overlooked the limitations to its competence, both institutional and constitutional, to decide questions of national security.’

Former Home Secretary Mr Javid said he ‘strongly welcomed’ the Supreme Court’s ruling.

He said: ‘The Home Secretary is responsible for the security of our citizens and borders, and therefore should have the power to decide whether anyone posing a serious threat to that security can enter our country.

‘There are no simple solutions to this situation but any restrictions of rights and freedoms faced by this individual are a direct consequence of the extreme actions that she and others have taken, in violation of government guidance and common morality.’

But human rights lawyers immediately hit out at the decision.

Rosie Brighouse, a lawyer with Liberty, said: ‘The right to a fair trial is not something democratic governments should take away on a whim, and nor is someone’s British citizenship.

‘If a government is allowed to wield extreme powers like banishment without the basic safeguards of a fair trial it sets an extremely dangerous precedent.

‘The security services have safely managed the returns of hundreds of people from Syria but the Government has chosen to target Shamima Begum.

‘This approach does not serve justice, it’s a cynical distraction from a failed counter-terror strategy and another example of this Government’s disregard for access to justice and the rule of law.’

Link hienalouca.com

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