Friday 23 August 2019

Britain 'strips two more Isil brides of citizenship'

NO CITIZEN: Shamima Begum
NO CITIZEN: Shamima Begum

Ellie Cullen and Sam Blewett

Two more jihadi brides being held with their children in Syrian refugee camps have been stripped of their British citizenship, it has been reported.

It comes as the row over Islamic State runaway Shamima Begum continued following the death of her three-week-old son.

According to The Sunday Times, two women, who between them have five boys under the age of eight, had their UK nationality removed after marrying into a terror cell linked to the murder of western hostages.

The Home Office said it did not comment on individual cases.

A spokesman added: "Any decisions to deprive individuals of their citizenship are based on all available evidence and not taken lightly."

The paper quoted legal sources, naming the women as Reema Iqbal, 30, and her sister Zara, 28, whose parents are originally from Pakistan.

It reported that the sisters left for Syria in 2013.

Zara was heavily pregnant with her second child when she made the journey and later had a third, the paper said, while Reema has two sons, one of whom was born in Britain.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid came under renewed scrutiny on Saturday for stripping Ms Begum of her UK citizenship after it emerged her baby son had died in a Syrian refugee camp.

Ms Begum, who fled London to join the terror group aged 15, had earlier begged to return to the UK with her boy, but Mr Javid revoked her passport amid fierce public debate.

Stripping citizenship is only legal if the individual has a second one, and it was thought she may have a claim in Bangladesh because of her family background, but Bangladeshi officials denied this.

Caliph Mirza Masroor Ahmad, who represents tens of millions of Ahmadi Muslims worldwide, urged a Muslim country to "show sympathy to her" following Britain's move.

"If the British Government has stripped her of her nationality then another country should adopt her, any Muslim country," he told reporters at the Baitul Futuh Mosque in Morden, south-west London, ahead of an annual peace conference.

"Since her parents were from Bangladesh, the first duty is of Bangladesh to take her as a national."

It emerged on Friday that Ms Begum, now 19, had lost her third child.

A medical certificate showed he died of pneumonia a day earlier, the BBC reported.

Ms Begum had earlier discussed her fears that she could lose the boy, saying: "This is really not a place to raise children, this camp."

Her family, who vowed to appeal against Mr Javid's decision, had also written to the Conservative minister, pleading with him to allow a safe passage for the boy to come to the UK.

On Saturday, his Labour counterpart, Diane Abbott, said he had "behaved shamefully" over the "tragedy that might have been avoided".

She added: "If the mother and baby had been brought home, the mother, Shamima Begum, would have faced British justice, but the baby might have lived."

Conservative MP Phillip Lee told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he was "deeply concerned" by Mr Javid's decision, which was "driven by a sort of populism".

Accusing Mr Javid of "moral cowardice", former director of public prosecutions Lord Macdonald said his move risked creating a "more dangerous world where stateless individuals roam with no allegiance and the death of unprotected innocents, in this case a vulnerable British baby".

"No dignified self-governing state should abandon responsibility for its own citizens in this way, trying to dump them on to poorer countries with failed security arrangements," he told The Observer.

Debate raged over Ms Begum's desire to return after she resurfaced in a refugee camp last month and said she wanted to return to Britain as the self-styled caliphate collapsed.

She had left Bethnal Green in east London with two other schoolgirls to join the IS terror group in February 2015.

Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis defended Mr Javid, telling Today: "There is no question that the duty of a home secretary in this country is to keep British people safe."

A Government spokesman said: "The death of any child is tragic and deeply distressing for the family.

"The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has consistently advised against travel to Syria since April 2011."

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