UK Supreme Court rules Shamima Begum, who joined ISIS as a teen, may not return to UK

UK Supreme Court rules Shamima Begum, who joined ISIS as a teen, may not return to UK
Image via BBC
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Shamima Begum, the British teenager who joined ISIS to commit terrorism in Syria, has been denied her plea to return to the United Kingdom.  

In a unanimous ruling on Friday, the U.K.’s Supreme Court ruled that Begum’s rights were not breached when she was refused permission to come home. Begum, now 21, argues that she should be allowed to return to the United Kingdom to challenge the then-Home Secretary’s decision to strip her of her British citizenship.  

Begum was one of several teenagers from East London who left the U.K. and traveled to Syria to join ISIS in 2015, renouncing her British citizenship in the process of becoming a founding member of the short-lived Islamic caliphate. Dreams of a world run by extremist Muslims were cut short by former President Donald Trump, whose special forces cornered and killed the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who spent his final days hiding in a cave with two of his own children as hostages.  

In 2019, former Home Secretary Sajid Javid stripped Begum of her citizenship on national security grounds. However, a lengthy legal process filed on her end led to the Court of Appeal, which ruled that the only way forward was to allow her into the U.K. to appeal against the Home Secretary’s decision.  

The Home Office appealed to the Supreme Court to reconsider the Court of Appeal’s judgment. The Home Office argued that letting Begum back into the U.K. “would create significant national security risks.”  

On Friday, the Supreme Court agreed with the Home Office’s recommendation. Robert Reed, President of the Supreme Court, said that the government is entitled to prevent Begum from returning to the U.K.  

“The Supreme Court unanimously allows all of the home secretary's appeals and dismisses Ms Begum's cross-appeal,” said Reed in a statement, adding that the Court of Appeal’s judgment "did not give the Home Secretary's assessment the respect which it should have received" given its “responsibility for making such assessments.”  

Reed ruled that the Court of Appeal "mistakenly believed that, when an individual's right to have a fair hearing... came into conflict with the requirements of national security, her right to a fair hearing must prevail," adding that the right to a fair hearing must never “trump all other considerations, such as the safety of the public.”  

Current Home Secretary Priti Patel agreed with the Supreme Court's judgement, stating that it “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,” she said.

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