Canadian agents would back inquiry into Begum’s trafficking: Lawyer

Canadian agents would back inquiry into Begum’s trafficking: Lawyer
A screengrab taken from an interview by Shamima Begum during which she said that she has reformed her ways since she joined Daesh in 2015. (Screengrab)
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Updated 04 September 2022

Canadian agents would back inquiry into Begum’s trafficking: Lawyer

Canadian agents would back inquiry into Begum’s trafficking: Lawyer
  • Tasnime Akunjee says allegations about role of Western agencies in trafficking have caused concern in Canadian intelligence community

LONDON: The lawyer representing the family of Shamima Begum, the British girl who had her UK citizenship revoked after traveling to Syria to join Daesh, has said Canadian intelligence would back an investigation into the role of the security services in facilitating her journey in 2015.

Tasnime Akunjee told The Observer that Canadian Security Intelligence Service agents had serious concerns over allegations, made in a new book, that a Daesh human trafficker, Mohammed Al-Rashed, who helped Begum and two other teenage girls from London reach Syria, had ties to the CSIS.

The book, “Secret History of the Five Eyes,” written by journalist Richard Kerbaj, also claims London’s Metropolitan Police were aware that the trafficker who smuggled the trio to Syria was a double agent with links to a Western intelligence agency.

“I have spoken to individuals within the CSIS who are extremely concerned and shocked about its role in the trafficking of Shamima Begum, and would strongly support an inquiry into its involvement,” Akunjee said, adding that he feared children could be trafficked in such a manner in order to become intelligence assets.

“It is also worth noting that, at the time of her trafficking into Syria, [the] CSIS did not have the legal authority to recruit and provide resources to someone engaged in supporting terrorism,” he added.

The revelations have prompted calls for an inquiry into Begum’s journey to Syria and the role of intelligence agencies in it, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prompted to address the book’s assertions, saying agencies need to be “flexible and creative” in fulfilling their duties but still abide by the law.

Kerbaj’s book claims the Canadian government admitted its involvement in the episode and asked UK authorities, as fellow members of the Five Eyes intelligence pact that also includes the US, Australia and New Zealand, to help cover up the story.

It also says CSIS officials met the former head of counterterrorism at the Metropolitan Police, Richard Walton, shortly after Begum left the UK in 2015.

Begum is currently in a prison camp for Daesh members in northeastern Syria. One of her companions, Kadiza Sultana, who was 16 when she left the UK, is thought to be dead, while the other, Amira Abase, who was 15, is missing.