London, May 31 (IANS) Shamima Begum, a British teenager of Bangladeshi descent who ran away in 2015 to become an Islamic State (IS) jihadi bride, was “groomed and radicalized” due to a failure by UK authorities to protect her from the influence of extremists, a lawyer representing her family said.
Begum, 19, was one of three schoolgirls to leave her home in London to join the terror group and resurfaced at a Syrian refugee camp earlier this year.
The lawyer for Begum’s family in a letter accused Home Secretary Sajid Javid of cancelling the citizenship of the teenager to “further his ambitions of becoming Prime Minister”, describing the case as “human fly-tipping”, the BBC reported.
Javid, a Tory leadership candidate, stripped Begum of her citizenship in February after she was found in a refugee camp in Syria. Married to an IS fighter, she was heavily pregnant with her third child and said she wanted to return her home in the UK.
Her third baby was born on February 16 and died of pneumonia on March 8. Begum’s two children died earlier. She has since been granted legal aid to fight the decision to revoke her British citizenship.
Lawyer Mohammed Akunjee said Javid’s decision was a “politically driven abuse of power” and called for the decision to be overturned and an apology offered.
Under international law, cancelling citizenship is only permissible if it does not leave an individual stateless. Begum is understood to be eligible for Bangladeshi citizenship, but authorities there denied this and said she could face the death penalty for involvement in terrorism.
In the letter published by the Times, Akunjee laid out the legal case for Javid to reverse the decision, saying it was “the responsibility of a British Secretary of State to deal with British problems”.
Akunjee wrote: “Shamima Begum’s parents never contemplated a life for her in Bangladesh. They did not register her birth with the Bangladeshi High Commission. They did not take her to Bangladesh on holiday as a child. Indeed she has never visited the country.
“Rather, Shamima was born, raised, groomed and radicalized here in the UK. The suggestion that Shamima is to you genuinely a Bangladeshi citizen is unsustainable… Rather than take responsibility for Shamima Begum and her son, you took a British problem and illegally dumped it on our innocent international neighbours.
“Your cynical decision amounts to human fly-tipping.”
The Home Office declined to comment on the letter. But it said any “decisions to deprive individuals of their citizenship are based on all available evidence and not taken lightly”.