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Britain to strip IS teen of citizenship

China Daily | Updated: 2019-02-21 07:18

A picture of Shamima Begum. [Photo/Agencies]

LONDON-Britain will strip citizenship from a UK teenager who joined the Islamic State group in Syria but now wants to return home with her newborn baby, a lawyer for her family said on Tuesday.

Shamima Begum's fate has stirred controversy since she and two friends fled London to join the terror network four years ago when she was aged just 15.

The case points to a dilemma facing many European countries, divided over whether to allow extremists and IS sympathizers home to face prosecution or barring them over security concerns as the so-called "caliphate" crumbles.

A lawyer for her family, Tasnime Akunjee, said on Twitter that they were "very disappointed with the Home Office's intention to have an order made depriving Shamima of her citizenship", and that they were considering "all legal avenues".

ITV News reported that the Home Office has sent a letter to Begum's mother, received on Tuesday, notifying the family of the decision which it said the teen had the right to appeal.

Britain's Home Office reportedly believes that Begum, who is of Bangladeshi heritage, is entitled to claim citizenship there.

"In order to protect this country, (the home secretary) has the power to deprive someone of their British citizenship where it would not render them stateless," the Press Association reported the Home Office as saying, adding it would not comment on individual cases.

Begum is currently in a refugee camp in northeast Syria where she fled to escape fighting in the east of the country along with hundreds of other people with links to the IS group.

In a series of interviews with British media, she criticized some aspects of the IS group and its self-proclaimed caliphate, but said she does not regret going there.

She said she had been "ok with" beheadings carried out by Islamic State adherents because she believed they were allowed under Islamic law.

"I think a lot of people should have sympathy toward me for everything I've been through," she told Sky News. "I just was hoping that maybe for me, for the sake of me and my child, they let me come back."

European countries have been grappling with what to do with foreign fighters detained in Syria by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, who have warned they may not be able to guard their jails once US troops leave.

The British government on Monday rebuffed US President Donald Trump's call to take back alleged UK extremists captured in the war-ravaged country.

Trump had called on Britain, France, Germany and other European allies "to take back over 800 IS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial".


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