Former ISIS-bride Shamima Begum has claimed that was influenced by the terrorist group's “propaganda machine” and that she should be treated as a “victim” of child trafficking, a court has heard.
Begum, 23, was 15 when she and two other east London schoolgirls travelled to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State group in February 2015.
But when she declared that she wanted to return, her British citizenship was revoked on national security grounds.
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At the time, she was was found nine months pregnant in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019.
And she is now challenging the Home Office’s decision – made under former home secretary Sajid Javid- to remove her British citizenship.
Her lawyers have argued that the Home Office had a legal duty to investigate whether Ms Begum was a victim of trafficking when her citizenship was revoked.
Samantha Knights KC, representing Ms Begum, said: “This case concerns a British child aged 15 who was persuaded, influenced and affected with her friends by a determined and effective Isis propaganda machine.
“She was following a well-known pattern by which ISIS cynically recruited and groomed female children, as young as 14, so that they could be offered as ‘wives’ to adult men.
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“What evidence is available shows that rather than viewing the appellant as a victim, a child that was manipulated and exploited, the Home Secretary proceeded on the basis that she acted ‘voluntarily’ in travelling to Syria and aligning with Isis.”
Ms Begum’s lawyers argued that the Home Office have unlawfully failed to consider that she travelled to Syria and remained there “as a victim of child trafficking”.
However, Sir James Eadie KC, representing the Home Office, said in written submissions that the Security Services “continue to assess that Ms Begum poses a risk to national security”.
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He said: “This is not a case about trafficking.
“When she did emerge, and gave multiple press interviews shortly before the Secretary of State decided to deprive her of her citizenship, she expressed no remorse and said she did not regret joining Isil, acknowledging that she was aware of the nature of the group when she travelled.
“He properly considered those circumstances when evaluating the risk to national security she posed.”
The hearing will continue until Friday.
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