Daesh Bride Shamima Begum Given Legal Aid to Fight for British Citizenship

© REUTERS / Laura Lean/Pool/File PhotoFILE PHOTO: Renu Begum, sister of teenage British girl Shamima Begum, holds a photo of her sister as she makes an appeal for her to return home at Scotland Yard, in London, Britain February 22, 2015.
FILE PHOTO: Renu Begum, sister of teenage British girl Shamima Begum, holds a photo of her sister as she makes an appeal for her to return home at Scotland Yard, in London, Britain February 22, 2015. - Sputnik International
The Begum ordeal has dropped in and out of the British headlines since mid-February. However, the latest development may be the most significant yet, and could see Shamima Begum return to the UK, courtesy of the British taxpayer.

Daesh bride Shamima Begum will be given legal aid money from the taxpayer's pocket to challenge the UK government's decision to remove her British citizenship, according to the Daily Mail.

Miss Begum's lawyer, Tasnime Akunjee, has confirmed that the legal aid has been awarded, adding that Miss Begum's case will now be handed over to a reputable human rights solicitor named Gareth Pierce who will begin the process of challenging UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid's earlier decision to strip Begum's citizenship.

According to the Mail, the taxpayer-footed bill could well run into the hundreds of thousands of pounds. Making matters more frustrating for many is the fact that the development comes hot on the heels of revelations that during her time in the so-called Caliphate, 19-year-old Miss Begum was personally involved with stitching "suicide bombs into vests" and was also a member of a "feared morality police" in Syria.

The UK government's Legal Aid Agency (LAA), which is part of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), recently accepted that despite the fact that Miss Begum is no longer a British citizen, her lawyers are still able to make requests for legal aid on her behalf on the condition that any future case is held in a British court of law. 

If the case gets to the courts, Miss Begum herself will be unable to attend because as it stands, she is banned from entering the UK.

Although the decision appears to have been made, a number of serving government officials, including those of senior rank, have come out to condemn the LAA's move.

UK Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has admitted that he would feel "very uncomfortable" with Miss Begum being handed over legal aid to challenge the stripping of her citizenship. Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme on Monday, April 15, Hunt added that Miss Begum "knew the choices she was making" when she fled the UK at the age of 15 to join Daesh.

"On a personal level, it makes me very uncomfortable because she made a series of choices and she knew the choices she was making, so I think we made decisions about her future based on those choices. The decision to deprive her of her citizenship was taken by a politician. Obviously, the decision about whether she accesses legal aid or not has to be done independently," Mr. Hunt also said.

The Mail quotes Conservative MP, Tim Loughton, as blasting the decision and saying that Miss Begum is "playing the victim card," adding that, "she has clearly been an active and willing participant in the most barbaric terrorist organisation in the world has now been exposed for the lie it was and the UK should have nothing to do with her."

While various requests for comment have reportedly been put to the LAA, so far they have only issued a rather vapid statement saying: "anybody applying for legal aid in a Special Immigration Appeal Commission case is subject to strict eligibility tests."

READ MORE: Jihadi Come Home? Shamima Begum to Legally Fight for UK Return — Report

Shamima Begum headed for Syria with two other female friends in 2015 at the age of 15. She dropped from the radar only to reappear in February 2019 in al-Hol refugee camp for internally displaced Daesh families. At that time, she was heavily pregnant with her third child after having already lost two children in Syria to disease. She has since lost the third child.

In her now-famous interview with the Times, Begum said that she had "no regrets" about joining Daesh and how seeing a severed head in a bin "did not faze" her. Home Secretary Javid, who asserted that he would do "everything" in his power to block British Daesh fighters and their brides from returning to the UK promptly stripped Miss Begum of her citizenship, saying that she could claim Bangladeshi citizenship due to her mother's origins in that country. However, Bangladesh quickly shot down that possibility, saying that Miss Begum had been "erroneously identified" as a citizen by the UK government and that she had "never" visited the country. Since then she has been languishing in legal limbo devising possible ways to return to the UK.      

READ MORE: ‘Jihadi Bride’ Shamima Begum Was a Member of Daesh Morality Police – Report

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