Shamima Begum: Why We Need To Reform The Law | Wasiq Wasiq
Shamima Begum cannot return home to fight her appeal the Supreme Court has ruled. In a landmark decision the Supreme Court has deemed national security as a priority over Begum. But why shouldn’t this be the case? Why shouldn’t the safety and security of the nation be paramount? The reason is that the law seems to be soft on those that seek to erode democracy, sow divisions and dismantle society to rebuild it into their vision. The raison d’etre of Islamist Jihadists is very much this and they will capitalise on any opportunity that presents itself to them.
Shamima Begum was 15 when she travelled to Syria to join the Islamic State (ISIS). She was accompanied by two of her school friends Amira Abase and Kadiza Sultana. All three teenage girls came from Bethnal Green in East London. In 2019 the then Home Secretary Sajid Javid made the decision to strip Begum of her British citizenship on the grounds that she posed a national security threat.
Ms Begum’s legal team took this matter to the Court of Appeal and succeeded in arguing that in order for Ms Begum to appeal the decision, she should be allowed back into the U.K. The Home Office then appealed to the Supreme Court than allowing Ms Begum to return would create significant national security risks. The Supreme Court agreed.
The law plays a mysterious function in society. Depending on which side of the argument you are on, or whether you have the knowledge and skills to make a persuasive case, then it can work in your favour. But that is not always the case.
Take for example the ISIS Beatles. Four British citizens that joined the so-called Islamic State and are said to have been responsible for the murders of American journalists James Foley, Steven Sotloff and British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning. When the Home Office passed on evidence to US courts, they were found to have broken the law. The principle underpinning this decision was that the evidenced contained personal data. Furthermore, assurances were not sought from the Home Office that the two members Shafee Elsheikh and Alexander Kotey would not receive the death penalty.
In October of last year, the US Attorney General gave assurances to the U.K. Government that the death penalty was off the table. This pragmatic move meant that successfully prosecuting Elsheikh and Kotey became more important that allowing a legal technicality to force the case to collapse. Whilst the outcome of this trial is yet to be determined, ensuring that all steps are taken to try these alleged Islamist Jihadis – where there is a likelihood of success – is a small step towards some kind of justice for their victims and families.
But national security is also at risk where the law is unable to prosecute those that seek to undermine fundamental British values and society at large.
The Commission for Countering Extremism recently published a report Operating with Impunity – Hateful extremism: The need for a legal framework. The report identifies weaknesses in the law that has – in the past – prevented law enforcement authorities in prosecuting those that create conditions that are conducive to hate crime, terrorism and other violence. It cites the Anjem Choudary senior leader of the proscribed Salafi-Islamist extremist group Al-Muhajiroun as a prime example of where these weaknesses in the law exists.
For over 20 years Choudary was able to operate with impunity to the frustration of law enforcement authorities. He is alleged to have motivated between 70-100 people to turn to terrorism in the Britain and Europe. It wasn’t until 2015 when he was found guilty to have invited support for ISIS that they then successfully charged and imprisoned him. The fact that it took so long to convict him, not for what he was already doing, but because he slipped up, just goes to show that the law is seriously lacking when it comes to dealing with individuals that create a climate conducive to terrorism and violence.
So where does this leave us with Shamima Begum and the law? The fact of the matter is this, bringing Begum back to the U.K. to fight her appeal would not be considered conducive to the public good. The only good it would produce is for those that are hell bent on undermining the U.K. Government and are sympathetic to Islamist Jihadists. Reforming the law to deal with Begum, Choudary and the ISIS Beatles needs to be urgently looked at. Until then, not only will we see the nation divided on cases like Begum’s, but also Islamists Jihadists ruling with impunity and within the law. This cannot and must not continue.