Shamima Begum, a teenager who left London when she was 15 years old to join ISIS in Syria, has had her British citizenship revoked, according to a letter sent to her family published by ITV News on Tuesday.
Begum, who gave birth to a son over the weekend, was discovered in a refugee camp in Syria by a London Times journalist earlier this month. Now, aged 19, she has told reporters she wants to return to Britain.
The letter addressed to Begum’s mother said: “Please find enclosed papers that relate to a decision taken by the Home Secretary, to deprive your daughter, Shamima Begum, of her British citizenship.
“In light of the circumstances of your daughter, the notice of the Home Secretary’s decision has been served of file today (19th February), and the order removing her British citizenship has subsequently been made.”
Britain’s Home Secretary Sajid Javid has said he would “not hesitate” to prevent the return to Britain of anyone who has supported terrorist organizations aboard.
Mohammed T Akunjee, a lawyer representing Begum’s family, said on Twitter the family was “very disappointed” by the move.
“We are considering all legal avenues to challenge this decision,” he said.
Sky News, citing government sources, said Begum could have her citizenship revoked because she was a dual British-Bangladeshi national.
American ISIS sympathizer
The United States said on Tuesday it wanted to ensure foreign extremists remain off the battlefield as it weighed options on an American detained in Syria who says she wants to return home.
The US has urged European powers to take back hundreds of their citizens who fought with ISIS in Syria, but acknowledged the situation was complex in the rare case of an American extremist.
Hoda Muthana, a 24-year-old from Alabama who became a prominent online agitator for the extremists, said in an interview published on Sunday with The Guardian that she had been brainwashed online and “deeply regrets” joining the group.
While declining to discuss Muthana’s case specifically, State Department deputy spokesman Robert Palladino said that the status of US citizens detained in Syria “is by definition extremely complicated.”
“We’re looking into these cases to better understand the details,” he told reporters.
Palladino said that the United States generally did not see a different solution between what to do with US fighters and with foreigners, saying the fighters pose “a global threat.”
“Repatriating these foreign terrorist fighters to their countries of origin, ensuring that they are prosecuted and detained - that’s the best solution, preventing them from returning to the battlefield,” he said.