Removing Shamima Begum’s citizenship ‘could be exploited by radical Islamists’

- Shamima Begum: What has happened, and why?

Radical Islamists could exploit unease caused by the decision to strip Shamima Begum of her British citizenship, the Government's chief adviser on countering extremism has warned.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid made the move after the teenager, who fled London aged 15 to join the so-called Islamic State caliphate in Syria, said she wanted to return to the UK with her newborn son.

Independent adviser Sara Khan cautioned on Thursday that the Government must acknowledge the anxiety caused by the decision, with extremists being eager to "exploit alienation and grievance".

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Shamima Begum reacting to question in news interview
BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE Undated handout still taken from CCTV issued by the Metropolitan Police of east London schoolgirl Shamima Begum, going through security at Gatwick airport, before catching a flight to Turkey in 2015 to join the Islamic State group, she is now heavily pregnant and wants to come home.
BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE Undated handout file still taken from CCTV issued by the Metropolitan Police of (left to right) 15-year-old Amira Abase, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Shamima Begum before catching a flight to Turkey in 2015 to join the Islamic State group, Shamima Begum is now heavily pregnant and wants to come home.
BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE Undated handout photo issued by the Metropolitan Police of east London schoolgirl Shamima Begum, who left Britain as a 15-year-old to join the Islamic State group and is now heavily pregnant and wants to come home.
Sahima Begum (sister of Shamima Begum) and Abase Hussen (father of Amira Abase ) leave the Houses of Parliament in London, after giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee after three schoolgirls are feared to have joined Islamic State in war-torn Syria.
Handout comp of stills taken from CCTV issued by the Metropolitan Police of (left to right) Kadiza Sultana,16, Shamima Begum,15 and 15-year-old Amira Abase going through security at Gatwick airport, before they caught their flight to Turkey on Tuesday. The three schoolgirls believed to have fled to Syria to join Islamic State.
The famiiles of Amira Abase and Shamima Begum after being interviewed by the media at New Scotland Yard, central London, as the relatives of three missing schoolgirls believed to have fled to Syria to join Islamic State have pleaded for them to return home.
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 10 : In this photo taken from video, Shamima Begum's sister Sahima Begum attends an evidence session at Parliaments Home Affairs Select Committee in the House of Commons, on three girls who are believed to have travelled to Syria to join Daesh (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) in London, England on March 10, 2015. (Photo by House of Commons/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 10 : In this photo taken from video, (L-R) Kadiza Sultana's Cousin Fahmida Aziz, Shamima Begum's sister Sahima Begum, Amira Abase's father Hussen Abase and Lawyer Tasnime Akunjee representing the families of the three schoolgirls missing in Syria attend an evidence session at Parliaments Home Affairs Select Committee in the House of Commons, on three girls who are believed to have travelled to Syria to join Daesh (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) in London, England on March 10, 2015. (Photo by House of Commons/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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She added: "While it is for courts to test the legality of decisions such as deprivation of citizenship, we have to also ask how measures such as this impact wider work on countering extremism.

"The Government has to recognise the unease felt by a wide range of people about decisions of this kind, not least those from minority communities with dual nationality.

"It has to build trust in its approach, because Islamist extremists will exploit alienation and grievance to turn people against their country."

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn says Begum should not be stripped of her UK citizenship.

"She was born in Britain, she has that right to remain in Britain and obviously there are a lot of questions she has to answer," told told ITN News.

"At that point any action may or may not be taken, but I think the idea of stripping somebody of their citizenship when they were born in Britain is a very extreme manoeuvre.

"Indeed, I questioned the right of the Home Secretary to have these powers when the original law was brought in by Theresa May when she was home secretary."

Mr Javid has defended his action against the 19-year-old and insisted he would not leave an individual stateless – which is illegal under international law – after Bangladesh denied she had citizenship there.

A statement from the nation's foreign affairs minister Shahriar Alam also said there was "no question" Ms Begum, who is of Bangladeshi heritage, could enter the country.

Mr Javid's move came amid heated debate over whether the teenager should be able to return to the UK after she was found in a Syrian refugee camp with the terror group's reign nearly over.

The Muslim Council of Britain has warned Mr Javid's move heightens fears of "a two-tiered citizenship scheme, sets a dangerous precedent and demonstrates an abdication of responsibility".

While many would like to see Ms Begum not return to the UK, others have argued she should face prosecution for her actions, and attempts at deradicalisation.

The Begum family's lawyer Tasnime Akunjee said he would be considering whether she has been left stateless as he prepares an appeal.

He said she was born in the UK, has never had a Bangladeshi passport and is not a dual citizen, which was confirmed by the Bangladeshi minister.

Mr Alam added: "So, there is no question of her being allowed to enter into Bangladesh."

Ms Begum, one of three schoolgirls to leave Bethnal Green to join IS in 2015, has called the decision "a bit unjust on me and my son".

Shamima Begum, right, leaving the UK with Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana
Shamima Begum, right, leaving the UK with Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana (Metropolitan Police/PA)

Asked about the situation on ITV's Peston, Mr Javid said: "I'm not going to talk about an individual, but I can be clear on the point that I would not take a decision and I believe none of my predecessors ever have taken a decision that at the point the decision is taken would leave that individual stateless."

He also suggested to the Commons that action to bar her from returning will not impact her son's rights.

"If a parent does lose their British citizenship, it does not affect the rights of their child," he said.

The British Nationality Act 1981 provides the Home Secretary with the power to strip people of citizenship if it is "conducive to the public good".

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