In the latest development concerning Shamima Begum – the British-born schoolgirl who travelled to Syria in 2015 – the now 23-year-old has seen her appeal against the government’s citizenship revocation order rejected on all nine grounds. 
Earlier today, judges sitting at the secretive Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) decided that Begum’s appeal was without merit. This was in spite of unleashing sharp criticism of UK authorities including the police, intelligence services, schools, and Begum’s former local authority, for failing her as a British citizen. 
Recruited for sexual abuse
In a ruling that was unusually made largely public (or open as the judgment states), and which contained a number of emotive arguments, the court suggested that,
“…there is a credible suspicion that Ms. Begum was recruited, transferred, and then harboured for the purpose of sexual exploitation.” 
In addition, the judges noted that despite the appeal being refused, it was clear that Begum had been through a particularly harrowing ordeal, beginning with being “married off” to an ISIS fighter soon after she entered Syria, and then spending the majority of the next four years in pregnancy.
As the ruling points out,
“Her three babies have all died. She remained in ISIL territory until January 2019, at which time she was in the ninth month of her pregnancy (her third child died in March 2019, three weeks old).
“Whatever the extent of her ideological commitment before she left in February 2015, Ms. Begum could not have had any inkling of how much personal suffering she was destined to endure.” 
#shamimabegum lost her appeal to regain British nationality. Bangladesh – birthplace of her parents – won’t give her nationality either. She’s now stateless – which is illegal. No angel but child-trafficked by Canadian intel into the hands of #IS, she saw 3 of her kids die. pic.twitter.com/P9tpuF4JQe— Moazzam Begg (@Moazzam_Begg) February 22, 2023
In the interests of national security
The veteran British human rights lawyer, Gareth Peirce, responded to the SIAC decision by warning,
“The implication is that no British child who is being trafficked outside the UK will be protected by the British state, if the Home Secretary invokes national security.” 
In remarks given to the press following the court’s decision, Peirce further argued that “there were extraordinary failures within the UK”, that resulted in Begum being able to travel to Turkey and onwards to Syria, without alarm bells being raised at any point prior to or along the way. 
What is SIAC?
The Special Immigration Appeals Commission is the court that deliberated on and delivered today’s judgment. It hears appeals pertaining to cases involving any mixture of the following:
- National security;
- Revocation of citizenship;
- A ban on entering the UK;
- Decisions on removing a person from the UK. 
The court is of a similar standing in legal respects to the High Court, but is somewhat unique in the British court system, in that it predominantly hears cases behind closed doors.
Despite regularly publishing rulings, it is generally unusual for it to release a ruling with defendants’ identities in unredacted form. 
The court is often criticised for unfair decisions, and in this light, campaigners argue that often this boils down to rulings being made without defence counsel being permitted sight of key evidence.
I’ve just finished reading the #shamimabegum judgment and despite the many assertions to the contrary, it can be summed up as the Home Secretary’s assessment of national security is a trump card, regardless of all other considerations.— Fahad Ansari (Activist Lawyer) (@fahadansari) February 22, 2023
Terrorist ordered to read the classics
Despite Begum’s case being especially high-profile and having received a lot of continued media interest, many argue that the government continues to treat non-Muslims accused of terrorism charges in an entirely different manner.
A prime example of this can be gleaned from the August 2021 sentencing of 21-year-old white supremacist, Ben John.
Convicted of possessing a record of information likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act, John was given the choice of two years’ jail time or reading classical literature. 
This was despite John admitting to possessing 67,788 documents relating to white supremacy and anti-Semitism, and despite such an offence having a maximum custodial sentence of fifteen years.
A few months later, John described how he…
“…enjoyed Shakespeare more than Austen.” 
- Shamima Begum – all of a sudden not British
- British Muslim returns home after 5 years stranded stateless
- Shamima Begum pleads to return to the UK after birth of her son
- Jeremy Corbyn supports Shamima Begum’s plea to return to the UK
- ‘Western spy’ trafficked Shamima Begum into Syria, new book claims
- Court rules government illegally deprived woman of British citizenship
- British government seeks without-notice citizenship revocation powers
- Civil groups protest against Nationality & Borders Bill that seeks citizenship rescission powers