Shamima Begum should be allowed to return to the UK as she is ‘not a dangerous person’, a former US diplomat has claimed.
Peter Galbraitht, a previous US ambassador to Croatia, often works with victims of Islamic State (ISIS). Now, he has turned his attention to the ex-Bethnal Green schoolgirl who travelled to Syria at 15 years old to marry a Dutch jihadi.
The British Government revoked Ms Begum’s citizenship in 2019 because the Home Office considers her to be a threat to national security.
But Mr Galbraitht told The Telegraph: ‘I’ve talked to Shamima – she is part of the group of women who have absolutely rejected the Islamic State – I know enough about her to feel quite confident that she’s not a dangerous person.’
The diplomat recently helped a Canadian mum escape the al-Roj refugee camp in northeast Syria – where Ms Begum is living.
The woman was able to cross into the Kurdistan region of Iraq and ask for consular assistance.
She gave information about ISIS to the US authorities and now she and her four-year-old daughter are out of the camp, which has been dubbed ‘fundamentally unsafe’ by Ms Begum’s legal team.
But this was a ‘special case’ and the al-Roj refugee camp is still sticking to its policy which requires foreign governments to ask for their citizens before they are released, Mr Galbraitht said.
He believes Ms Begum will not be freed from the camp without help from the UK government because, unlike the Canadian woman who still had her citizenship, Ms Begum has ‘nowhere to go’.
‘The basic position of the British Government is that Shamima is somehow dangerous and I just don’t think that’s true,’ Mr Galbraitht said.
Ms Begum is currently challenging the removal of her citizenship, arguing the Home Office has left her ‘de facto stateless’.
But the government says this is not true because Ms Begum’s parents are from Bangladesh.
Aside from the statelessness debate, Ms Begum’s lawyers say the Home Office should consider that Ms Begum may have been ‘a child trafficked to, and remaining in, Syria for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced marriage’.
But David Blundell QC, who represents the Home Office, says these claims are ‘entirely speculative’ because ‘Ms Begum herself has never stated that she has been trafficked’.
During Ms Begum’s time in Syria, she had three children who have all died amid the harsh conditions.
In the young woman’s most recent media interview, she told journalist Andrew Drury: ‘I don’t think I was a terrorist. I think I was just a dumb kid who made one mistake.
‘I personally don’t think that I need to be rehabilitated, but I would want to help other people be rehabilitated. I would love to help.’
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