So-Called ‘ISIS Bride’ Shamima Begum Loses Appeal Over British Citizenship

The 23-year-old will not be allowed to return to the UK. Her last remaining option is citizenship in Bangladesh – a country she has never visited.
shamima begum appeal
Shamima Begum pictured in a camp in northern Syria in 2021. Photo: Sam Tarling/Getty Images

Shamima Begum has lost a legal challenge against the UK government’s decision to remove her British citizenship.

Begum, now 23, left the UK in 2015 aged 15 to join the so-called Islamic State in Syria. 

The Home Office has said repeatedly she would be a threat to public safety if she is allowed to return to the UK.

But Begum has rejected accusations she carried out atrocities as part of the terrorist group. 


Wednesday’s decision at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission leaves her in limbo in a Syrian detention camp.

Human Rights Watch said that the UK left Begum de facto stateless in 2019 after she was stripped of her citizenship.

Arbitrary deprivation of nationality is forbidden under international law. 

“If Begum did commit crimes during her time with ISIS, she should be brought home and given a fair trial,” Human Rights Watch said in 2021.

During her time in Syria Begum gave birth to three children, all of whom died young. 

Her lawyers have repeatedly argued that she was “groomed” and “trafficked” by the terrorist group, as she had left the UK when a child.

In January she told the BBC that she accepted she had joined a terrorist group, and that the British public see her "as a danger, as a risk, as a potential risk to them, to their safety, to their way of living".

But she added that "I'm not this person that they think I am.”