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SIS bride's lawyer accuses UK of failing to protect her


Press Trust of India London
The lawyer representing the runaway Islamic State (ISIS) bride Shamima Begum on Friday accused the UK government of failing to protect her from grooming and radicalisation by Islamist extremists and demanded the teenager be allowed to return to her home in London.
Tasnime Akunjee, representing Begum's UK-based family, has written to home secretary Sajid Javid challenging his decision to revoke her British citizenship as "politically-driven abuse of power" to try to further his "own personal political objective" of becoming Britain's next Prime Minister.
"Your act represents the most profoundly egregious, capricious and politically driven abuse of power, the letter notes.
"It was an artifice or device to further your own personal political objective of being Prime Minister. Ms Begum was a pawn to your vanity. Her baby died," he said.
Begum was pregnant with her third child when she was discovered at the Al-Roj camp in northern Syria in February. She had pleaded through the UK media to be allowed to return to Britain fearing for her unborn child, after two of her babies had died in infancy in the war zone. She eventually lost her third baby, named Jarrah, weeks later due to pneumonia.
Under international law, Britain can cancel citizenship on national security grounds only if it does not leave an individual stateless. Begum is understood to be eligible for Bangladeshi citizenship, but authorities there have denied this and said she could in fact face the death penalty for involvement in terrorism.
"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," Akunjee's sharply worded letter notes.
"Rather, Shamima was born, raised, groomed and radicalised here in the UK. The suggestion that Shamima is to you genuinely a Bangladeshi citizen is unsustainable Through sleight of hand, you have sought to burden the Bangladeshis with her in the longer term. Your cynical decision amounts to human fly-tipping, he adds.
The letter also attacked the British police and her local Tower Hamlets Council in east London of failing to safeguard the teenager, who fled with two other London schoolgirls to join ISIS in Syria in 2015.
One passage of the 16-page letter quotes Shamima Begum's sister, Renu Begum, who says the family has "suffered loss so many times" and accuses Javid of stealing the chance of rehabilitation for her sister.
The UK Home Office declined to react to the letter, saying it "does not routinely comment on individual cases" and the Metropolitan Police stressed that its focus in such cases was always on preventing tragedies.
"Our focus was not to criminalise anyone, but to prevent tragedies and support the girls and their families. Our priority and focus from the moment the girls were reported missing was their safety and wellbeing," said Commander Clarke Jarrett, head of the Metropolitan Police's Counter Terrorism Command.
A spokesperson for Tower Hamlets Council said the case "did not meet the threshold for a serious case review", adding that the council provided "in-depth support to the school, its staff, parents and pupils in order to investigate what had happened and stop others following in their footsteps.

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First Published: May 31 2019 | 7:25 PM IST

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