Shamima Begum, who left the United Kingdom to join ISIS at the age of 15, has lost her appeal against the decision to revoke her British citizenship.
Judge Robert Jay gave the decision on Wednesday following a five-day hearing in November. The ruling does not determine if Begum can return to the UK, but whether the removal of her citizenship was lawful.
Begum, now aged 23, flew to Syria in 2015 with two school friends as a teenager join the ISIS terror group. In February 2019, she re-emerged and made international headlines as an “ISIS bride” after pleading with the UK government to return to her home country to give birth to her son.
Then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid removed her British citizenship on February 19, 2019. Begum’s newborn son died in a northern Syrian refugee camp the following month.
She has told British media she had two other children prior to that child, who also died in Syria during infancy.
She challenged the decision but in June 2019, the government refused her application for leave to enter the UK to pursue her appeal.
In 2020, the UK Court of Appeal ruled Begum should be granted leave to enter the country because otherwise, it would not be “a fair and effective hearing.”
The following year, the Supreme Court reversed that decision, arguing that the Court of Appeal made four errors when it ruled that Begum should be allowed to return to the UK to carry out her appeal.
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.
The decision to revoke Begum’s citizenship has come under fire from human rights campaigners and legal experts alike who argue that the revocation rendered her stateless and compromised her right to a fair appeal.
Begum was 15 when she flew out of Gatwick Airport with two classmates and traveled to Syria.
The teenagers, all from the Bethnal Green Academy in east London, were to join another classmate who had made the same journey months earlier.
While in Syria, Begum married an ISIS fighter and spent several years living in Raqqa. Begum then reappeared in al-Hawl, a Syrian refugee camp of 39,000 people, in 2019. Speaking from the camp before giving birth, Begum told UK newspaper The Times that she wanted to come home to have her child. She said she had already had two other children who died in infancy from malnutrition and illness.
She gave birth to her son, Jarrah, in al-Hawl in February of that year. The baby’s health quickly deteriorated, and he passed away after being transferred from the camp to the main hospital in al-Hasakah City.
In response to that news, a British government spokesperson told CNN at the time that “the death of any child is tragic and deeply distressing for the family.”
But the spokesperson added the UK Foreign Office “has consistently advised against travel to Syria” since 2011.