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Shamima Begum, Who Joined ISIS in Syria, Can Return, U.K. Court Says

2020-07-16 11:44:21
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LONDON — Shamima Begum, a woman who traveled to Syria from London as a schoolgirl to join ISIS, should be allowed to return to appeal the government’s decision to strip her of her British citizenship, a court ruled on Thursday.

The Court of Appeal ruled that the only way Ms. Begum would be able to pursue a “fair and effective appeal” was “to be permitted to come into the United Kingdom.”

Ms. Begum, now 20, spent years in Islamic State territory, but fled to a refugee camp in northeastern Syria after the group lost control in the region, and had expressed a desire to return to East London.

Her case is a prominent example of the challenges faced by many Western governments with citizens who joined the group, and who some argue would pose a national security threat if they were repatriated.

Ms. Begum appealed, but a special tribunal ruled the decision was lawful because she was “a citizen of Bangladesh by descent” from her mother. Since then, she has pleaded with the British authorities to repatriate her to stand trial in her home country, something the government has vowed never to do.

Governments in Britain, France and other countries have so far refused repatriation in most Islamic State-linked cases, only taking back some children and families on a case-by-case basis.

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