Britain to strip Daesh teen of citizenship

Shamima Begum, now 19, expressed no regrets about fleeing her London life four years ago but said that two of her children had died and, pregnant with her third, she wanted to return to the UK. (File/AFP)
Updated 20 February 2019
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Britain to strip Daesh teen of citizenship

  • The case points to a dilemma facing many European countries, divided over whether to allow Daesh sympathizers home
  • Begum is currently in a refugee camp in northeast Syria where she fled to escape fighting in the east of the country

LONDON: Britain will strip citizenship from a UK teenager who joined the Daesh group in Syria but now wants to return home with her newborn baby, a lawyer for her family said 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 Daesh 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 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 Daesh.
At the weekend she gave birth to her third child, and appealed to British authorities to show “compassion” by allowing her to raise the baby in Britain — while expressing no regret over having joined Daesh.
She has previously given birth to two other children after marrying in Syria. Both children have died, apparently from illness and malnutrition.
“I’m afraid he might even die in this camp,” Begum said of her newborn. “I feel a lot of people should have sympathy for me, for everything I’ve been through,” she told Sky News, adding that “I didn’t know what I was getting into when I left.”
However, in an interview with the BBC on Monday, she compared the Manchester Arena bombing to military strikes on Daesh strongholds, calling the terror attack “retaliation.”
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.”
Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said the fighters should instead face justice in places where they committed their crimes.


Brexit in disarray as Theresa May faces possible ouster plot

Updated 24 March 2019
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Brexit in disarray as Theresa May faces possible ouster plot

  • British politics is at fever pitch and nearly three years since the 2016 Brexit referendum
  • With Theresa May humiliated and weakened, ministers insist she and the British government are still in charge of the country

LONDON: The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union was in disarray on Sunday as Prime Minister Theresa May faced a possible plot by ministers to topple her and parliament prepared to grab control of Brexit from the government.
At one of the most important junctures for the country since World War Two, British politics was at fever pitch and, nearly three years since the 2016 referendum, it was still unclear how, when or if Brexit will ever take place.
With May humiliated and weakened, ministers insisted she and the British government were still in charge of the country, and that the best option was still for parliament to ratify May’s twice-defeated Brexit divorce deal.
As hundreds of thousands of people marched across central London on Saturday to demand another Brexit referendum, May was the subject of what The Sunday Times said was a “coup” by senior ministers seeking to oust her.
The newspaper cited 11 unidentified senior ministers and said they had agreed that the prime minister should stand down, warning that she has become a toxic and erratic figure whose judgment has “gone haywire.”
When asked by Sky about reports in The Sunday Times and other newspapers of a plot and whether she had run out of road, finance minister Philip Hammond said: “No. I don’t think that is the case at all.”
“Changing prime minister wouldn’t help us,” Hammond said. “To be talking about changing the players on the board, frankly, is self-indulgent at this time.”
Hammond said the best way forward would be for parliament to back May’s deal, although he said that it might not be approved and so parliament should then try to find a way to end the impasse.
“I’m realistic that we may not be able to get a majority for the prime minister’s (Brexit) deal and if that is the case then parliament will have to decide not just what it’s against but what it is for,” he said.
Brexit had been due to happen on March 29 before May secured a delay in talks with the EU on Thursday.
Now a May 22 departure date will apply if parliament rallies behind the British prime minister and she is able to pass her deal. If she fails to do so, Britain will have until April 12 to offer a new plan or decide to leave the EU without a treaty.
Some lawmakers have asked May to name her departure date as the price for supporting her deal, though it was unclear when a third vote might take place.
If May’s deal is dead, then parliament will try to find a different option. That opens an array of options including a much softer divorce than May had intended, a referendum, a revocation of the Article 50 divorce papers or even an election.
Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay said May’s deal was the best option and urged people to get behind the prime minister.
“The government and the prime minister are in charge,” Barclay said. May went to her usual church service near her Chequers country residence on Sunday with her husband.
The Sunday Times reported that May’s de-facto deputy, David Lidington, was one contender to be interim prime minister but others are pushing for Environment Secretary Michael Gove or Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
“I don’t think that I have any wish to take over from the PM, I think (she) is doing a fantastic job,” Lidington told reporters outside his house.
“One thing that working closely with the prime minister does is cure you completely of any lingering shred of ambition to want to do that task,” he quipped.
Lawmakers are due on Monday to debate a government motion saying parliament has considered a statement made by May on March 15 which set out the government’s next steps on Brexit, including the plan to seek a delay.
They are likely to propose changes, or amendments, to this motion setting out alternative ways forward on Brexit. These are expected to include a proposal to approve May’s deal only if it is put to a public vote.
While amendments are not legally binding, instead simply exerting political pressure on May to change course, lawmakers could use one to attempt to change the rules of parliament to wrest control of the Brexit process from the government.
A British election could be the consequence of parliament seizing control of the Brexit process if lawmakers back proposals contrary to the pledges the government was elected on, Barclay said.