‘Daesh bride’ Shamima Begum may not be ‘continuing threat,’ UK court told

‘Daesh bride’ Shamima Begum may not be ‘continuing threat,’ UK court told
Shamima Begum, 21, left the UK to join Daesh in Syria in 2015. (AP Photo)
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Updated 24 November 2020

‘Daesh bride’ Shamima Begum may not be ‘continuing threat,’ UK court told

‘Daesh bride’ Shamima Begum may not be ‘continuing threat,’ UK court told
  • Lawyers fighting for Shamima Begum’s right to return to the UK to challenge the 2019 decision to revoke her citizenship said her case must be heard with the 21-year-old present
  • Begum was 15 when she and two other schoolgirls from Bethnal Green, east London, left home to join the extremist group on February 17, 2015

LONDON: A woman stripped of her UK citizenship after joining the Daesh group in Syria may not pose an ongoing security risk to Britain, the Supreme Court was told on Tuesday.

Lawyers fighting for Shamima Begum’s right to return to the UK to challenge the 2019 decision to revoke her citizenship said her case must be heard with the 21-year-old present.

“What security threat Ms Begum will pose... will inevitably depend on the circumstances of her case (and) an assessment of her, of the risk — if any — that she as an individual poses on her return,” her lawyer David Pannick said.

“It cannot be assumed... that because Ms Begum traveled to Syria and because there is evidence she aligned with Daesh, it therefore follows that she constitutes a continuing threat,” he added.

Britain’s ruling Conservative government has asked the Supreme Court to decide if Begum can return to pursue an in-person appeal.

The Court of Appeal ruled in her favor in July but the interior ministry immediately appealed, insisting she remains “aligned” with the proscribed terrorist organization.

Begum was 15 when she and two other schoolgirls from Bethnal Green, east London, left home to join the extremist group on February 17, 2015.

She claims she married a Dutch convert soon after arriving in Daesh-held territory. She was discovered, nine months pregnant, in a Syrian refugee camp in February last year.

Her newborn baby died soon after she gave birth. Two of her other children also died under Daesh rule.

Then-home secretary Sajid Javid annulled Begum’s British citizenship on national security grounds.

She took legal action, arguing the decision was unlawful as it had made her stateless and exposed her to the risk of death or inhuman and degrading treatment.

British-born Begum is of Bangladeshi heritage. But Bangladesh’s foreign minister has said he will not consider granting her citizenship.

A lawyer for the government on Monday told the five-judge panel hearing the appeal over two days that allowing Begum to return would expose the public to “an increased risk of terrorism.”

“What we submit is that those who traveled (to Syria)... pose a clear and present threat specifically on return,” James Eadie said.

But rebutting the claims, Pannick said security assessments had not advised the home secretary that the risk posed by Begum’s return was “unmanageable.”
He added Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIMs) as well as her potential prosecution, which have been used for other people returning from Daesh territory, could be utilized.

“The court cannot assume, should not assume, that... TPIMs and criminal prosecution are inadequate to protect this country from her when she returns,” Pannick said.

Addressing the arguments that Begum posed a security threat, he added that was not a legal basis for preventing her in-person appeal.

“The requirements of procedural fairness... cannot be overridden by national security without express statutory authority,” Pannick added.


Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try
A view of Richard Branson's Virgin Orbit, with a rocket underneath the wing of a modified Boeing 747 jetliner, during test launch of its high-altitude launch system for satellites from Mojave, California, U.S. January 17, 2021. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 min 41 sec ago

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reaches space on 2nd try
  • The rocket’s upper stage coasted for a period, reignited to circularize the orbit and then deployed the nine CubeSats

LOS ANGELES: Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reached space on Sunday, eight months after the first demonstration flight of its air-launched rocket system failed, the company said.
A 70-foot-long (21.34-meter-long) LauncherOne rocket was released from beneath the wing of a Boeing 747 carrier aircraft off the coast of Southern California, ignited moments later and soared toward space.
The two-stage rocket carried a cluster of very small satellites known as CubeSats developed and built as part of a NASA educational program involving US universities.
The launch occurred after the Boeing 747-400 took off from Mojave Air and Space Port in the desert north of Los Angeles and flew out over the Pacific Ocean to a drop point beyond the Channel Islands.
“According to telemetry, LauncherOne has reached orbit!” Virgin Orbit tweeted later. “Everyone on the team who is not in mission control right now is going absolutely bonkers.”
The rocket’s upper stage coasted for a period, reignited to circularize the orbit and then deployed the nine CubeSats.
The flight developments were announced on social media. The launch was not publicly livestreamed.
Virgin Orbit, based in Long Beach, California, is part of a wave of companies targeting the launch market for increasingly capable small satellites, which may range in sizes comparable to a toaster on up to a home refrigerator.
Competitor Rocket Lab, also headquartered in Long Beach, has deployed 96 payloads in 17 launches of its Electron rocket from a site in New Zealand. Another of its rockets was nearing launch Sunday.
Virgin Orbit touts the flexibility of its capability to begin its missions by using airports around the globe.
Virgin Orbit attempted its first demonstration launch in May 2020.
The rocket was released and ignited but only briefly flew under power before it stopped thrusting. The lost payload was only a test satellite.
The company later said an investigation determined there was a breach in a high-pressure line carrying cryogenic liquid oxygen to the first-stage combustion chamber.
Virgin Orbit is separate from Virgin Galactic, the company founded by Branson to carry passengers on suborbital hops in which they will experience the sensations and sights of spaceflight.
Virgin Galactic expects to begin commercial operations this year in southern New Mexico.