NEWS
31/05/2019 08:55 BST

'Shamima Begum Was Groomed In The UK': Lawyer Blasts Home Secretary For Stripping Teen Of Citizenship

“Ms Begum was a pawn to your vanity," Mohammed Akunjee wrote in a letter.

PA Ready News UK
The teenager resurfaced in Syria earlier this year.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has been accused of using using runaway Islamic State bride Shamima Begum as a ‘pawn’ to ‘further his political career’.

Mohammed Akunjee, a lawyer representing Begum’s family, said Shamima was “radicalised in the UK” as he hit out at Javid for “dumping” British problems on other nations.

Begum, 19, was one of three schoolgirls to leave Bethnal Green in east London to join the so-called Islamic State in 2015 and resurfaced at a Syrian refugee camp earlier this year.

Javid cancelled the teenager’s British citizenship in February in a move only permissible under international law if it does not leave the individual stateless.

Mohammed Akunjee, a lawyer representing the family of Begum, has called for the decision to be overturned and an apology offered.

In a letter published by the Times, Akunjee said: “Your act represents the most profoundly egregious, capricious and politically-driven abuse of power.

“It was a unilateral, unprincipled response to the publishing of (Times reporter) Mr (Anthony) Loyd’s interview (with Ms Begum in a refugee camp), deployed as 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.”

Begum, then heavily pregnant, was interviewed at the Al-Roj camp in northern Syria on February 13 this year and said she wished to return to the UK, as the self-styled caliphate collapsed.

In an interview with Sky News following the birth of her son, Begum said: “I can’t live in this camp forever.”

“I feel a lot of people should have sympathy for me, for everything I’ve been through, you know I didn’t know what I was getting into when I left, I just was hoping that maybe for the sake of me and my child they let me come back,” she said.

Akunjee wrote that she was concerned about the quality of healthcare which would be offered to her then unborn baby, given that her previous two children had both died.

The baby, named Jarrah, was born on February 16 and died of pneumonia on March 8, the letter said.

Getty Editorial
Sajid Javid

Stripping citizenship is only legal if the individual has a second one, and it was thought Begum may have a claim in Bangladesh because of her family background, but Bangladeshi officials denied this.

The letter said: “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.

“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.”

It added: “It is the responsibility of a British secretary of state to deal with British problems. Rather than take responsibility for Shamima Begum and her son, you took a British problem and illegally dumped it on our innocent international neighbours.

“You have dishonourably left it to the Kurdish people to bear the financial and security burden of Shamima’s safety and upkeep. You left them to minister to her sick child and to bury him. 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.”

The Home Office said it did not routinely comment in individual cases.