FORMER Brit ISIS bride Shamima Begum “knew what she was doing” when she travelled to Syria to join the Islamic State, a senior MI5 officer told her citizenship appeal.
The 23-year-old’s lawyers had told the court that Begum was “cynically recruited and groomed” when she was 15, before being trafficked for sexual exploitation by the terror group in 2015.
3An MI5 agent has said Shamima Begum ‘knew what she was doing’ in joining ISISCredit: PA3Begum was 15 when she ran away from home to join the Islamic State in SyriaCredit: AFP3She is appealing to have her British citizenship restoredCredit: PABegum has launched a fresh attempt to have her British citizenship restored after then-home secretary Sajid Javid revoked it in 2019 when she was found in a Syrian refugee camp.
But lawyers for the former schoolgirl from Bethnal Green, east London, want this decision to be declared unlawful on the grounds that the ISIS recruit was a victim of trafficking, and claim that she isn’t a threat to national security.
However, an MI5 officer who led a team investigating the Islamist terror group’s activities in Syria and Iraq in 2019 dismissed the claims of Begum’s lawyer.
He told the hearing at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) it was “inconceivable” that Begum “would not know what [IS] was doing as a terrorist organisation at this time”.
Asked by Begum’s lawyer Dan Squires KC whether the Security Service had considered whether she was a victim of trafficking, he replied: “We consider whether someone is a threat – it is important to note that victims can very much be threats even if someone is a victim of trafficking.”
The officer, who had his identity protected by a curtain and was named only as Witness E, told the appeal it was “worth remembering” the crimes known to have been committed by ISIS by the time Begum left for Syria seven years ago.
He listed atrocities including “the second deadliest terror attack in history” when 1,700 cadets were slaughtered in June 2014 in Iraq.
Other horrors already carried out by the time Begum left for Syria included the genocide of the Yazidis in the Sinjaw region of Iraq, as well as the beheading of journalists including James Foley, David Haines, and Alan Henning.
“In my mind and that of colleagues, it is not conceivable that even a 15-year-old – that 15-year-old having been predicted As and A*s, an intelligent, articulate and presumably critically thinking individual – would not know what [ISIS] was about,” the officer told the hearing.
He went on: “In some respects, I do believe she knew what she was doing and had agency in doing so.”
Begum remains at the al-Roj refugee camp in northern Syria and has lost three children in recent years.
It was previously reported that Begum was smuggled into Syria from Turkey by a Canadian ISIS “agent”.
Samantha Knights KC for Begum said she was a British girl who, along with her friends, had been “influenced and affected” by the ISIS “propaganda machine”.
She said that she was then “provided in marriage to an ISIS fighter,” and referred to her loss of citizenship as an “extreme measure”.
Ms Knights added: “In Ms Begum’s case, it is effectively an exile for life, it had and continues to have the most profound impact.”
Sir James Eadie KC, from the Home Office, said in his written submissions that the Security Services “continue to asses that Ms Begum poses a risk to national security”.
He went on: “This is a case about national security. This is not a case about trafficking.”
The case will continue to be heard for the rest of the week.
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk