ISIS bride Shamima Begum could return to Britain after modern slavery court case

28 January 2022, 13:52 | Updated: 28 January 2022, 13:53

Shamima Begum given fresh hope of a return to Britain
Shamima Begum given fresh hope of a return to Britain. Picture: Alamy

By Stephen Rigley

Jihadi bride Shamima Begum could return to the UK after a slavery case led to the collapse of a terror trial.

The case against the youngest girl ever charged with terrorism in the UK was dropped after the 16-year-old defendant successfully claimed she was a victim of modern slavery.

It is the first time a terrorism prosecution has been halted due to a claim of sexual exploitation.

Jonathan Hall QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, believes it could pave the way for other teenage terror suspects to claim they have been groomed online.

He said: "Being both a victim of modern slavery and presenting a risk to the general public are not incompatible.

"If fewer criminal cases are going to be possible, this begs the question whether there are sufficient non-criminal justice measures in place, in particular to deal with the terrorist risk presented by children."

Begum's lawyer Tasnime Akunjee said: "Shamima has been arguing this from the beginning. This just strengthens her case."

Details of the extraordinary case involving the 16-year-old, which could have a major impact on terror prosecutions, can be revealed for the first time.

The teenager, from Derbyshire, who cannot be named because of her age, was accused of possessing a bomb-making video and instructions on how to make a gun after her mother alerted the authorities about her ‘fixation’ with Hitler.

But the case was dropped when the Home Office decided she was a victim of modern slavery after her lawyers claimed she had been sexually exploited and groomed online by a US extremist.

Begum was 15 years old in 2015 when she fled the UK with two friends to join Isis. She is now living in the al-Roj camp in Syria after she was stripped of her British citizenship.

Last year Begum claimed she was groomed by friends and older men she met online before fleeing abroad and she now fears for her life.

Begum, now 22, is said to be a prime target for the group, which she claims to have denounced.

Begum has made repeated bids to return to Britain, claiming she was just a "dumb kid" when she joined ISIS and "didn't want to be the friend that was left behind".

But the Supreme Court ruled in February 2021 that she will not be allowed back into Britain due to concerns for public safety.