Woman who joined ISIS as a teen loses challenge against the removal of her UK citizenship

A woman who left the United Kingdom to join ISIS at the age of 15 has lost her Court of Appeal challenge over the decision to remove her British citizenship.

Shamima Begum flew to Syria in 2015 with two school friends to join the terror group. While there, she married an ISIS fighter and spent several years living in Raqqa.

Begum then reappeared in al-Hawl, a Syrian refugee camp, in 2019. She made international headlines as an “ISIS bride” after pleading with the UK government to be allowed to return to her home country for the birth of her son.

Then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid removed her British citizenship in February that year, and Begum’s newborn son died in a Syrian refugee camp the following month. She told UK media she had two other children prior to that baby, who also died in Syria during infancy.

Begum pictured at Syria's Roj Camp in 2021. - Sam Tarling/Getty Images

Begum pictured at Syria’s Roj Camp in 2021. – Sam Tarling/Getty Images

Giving the ruling on whether the government decision was lawful, Lady Chief Justice Baroness Carr said, according to PA Media: “It could be argued the decision in Ms Begum’s case was harsh. It could also be argued that Ms Begum is the author of her own misfortune.

“But it is not for this court to agree or disagree with either point of view.”

Friday’s ruling does not necessarily signal the end of Begum’s legal battle. Alexander dos Santos, an extradition barrister, told Sky News in the aftermath of the ruling that there is “at least some potential” for her lawyers to appeal again.

He pointed to Begum being left stateless as grounds for this, something her lawyers have argued the British government has not fully considered the consequences of.

Begum has made several public appeals as she fought against the government’s decision, most recently appearing in BBC documentary The Shamima Begum Story and a 10-part BBC podcast series.

In the podcast series she insisted that she is “not a bad person.” While accepting that the British public viewed her as a “danger” and a “risk,” Begum blamed this on her media portrayal.

Her lawyers have argued she was a victim of child trafficking, and that the decision was unlawful as it rendered her stateless.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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