Shamima Begum could be treated as a victim, watchdog warns

Ms Begum fled her east London home for Syria as a 15-year-old schoolgirl to join ISIS more than seven years ago.

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Shamima Begum and other terror suspects could be treated like victims if they exploit slavery laws as the definition is so wide, a watchdog has warned.

Shamima Begum was smuggled into Syria by a Canadian intelligence agent, alongside her two friends, according to reports.

Ms Begum fled her east London home for Syria as a 15-year-old schoolgirl to join ISIS more than seven years ago.

She has denied any involvement in terror activities and is challenging a Government decision to remove her citizenship.

Mohammed Al Rasheed, who is alleged to have been a double agent working for the Canadians, is said to have met Begum in Turkey before taking them to Syria in February 2015.

Undated file photo of Shamima Begum, a court has heard there is "overwhelming evidence" that Shamima Begum was a victim of trafficking when she left the UK. Issue date: Friday June 18, 2021.
Undated file photo of Shamima Begum, a court has heard there is "overwhelming evidence" that Shamima Begum was a victim of trafficking when she left the UK. Issue date: Friday June 18, 2021.

Rasheed was reportedly providing information to Canadian intelligence while smuggling people to ISIS.

Now, an independent reviewer of terrorism, Jonathan Hall QC, has told The Times that he is concerned that “the definition and the way in which the law is applied is over broad”.

He noted that it is more crucial to look into the risk Begum posed rather than adopting the idea that any child recruited into a terrorist organisation was immediately classed as a victim.

“It is at odds with the fact that children are not generally seen as victims when they commit other crimes, just because someone suggests they should do so”

Begum was nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp when she was found in 2019.

Her British citizenship was revoked on national security grounds shortly afterwards.
Her British citizenship was revoked on national security grounds shortly afterwards.

Her British citizenship was revoked on national security grounds shortly afterwards.

She decided to challenge the Home Office’s decision to remove her British citizenship and wanted to be allowed to return to the UK to pursue her appeal.

In July 2020, the Court of Appeal ruled that “the only way in which she can have a fair and effective appeal is to be permitted to come into the United Kingdom to pursue her appeal”.

The Home Office challenged the decision at the Supreme Court four months later.

The Supreme Court ruled in February 2021 that Ms Begum should not be granted leave to enter the UK to pursue her appeal.