Father loses legal fight to keep British citizenship for son who joined the Islamic State
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- Islamic State ISIS is an Islamic extremist terrorist organization controlling territory in Iraq...[+]
Affected Countries: united-kingdom;
Despite the verdict, Ashraf may still challenge the decision to deprive him of his citizenship through the Special Immigration Appeals Commission – although even if successful, he can only return to the country if released by his captors and freely allowed to leave Syria by authorities.
The father of British-born Ashraf Mahmud Islam, an 18-year-old who travelled to Syria to join Daesh, has lost a fight to keep his son’s UK citizenship after he was stripped of it by former Home Secretary Amber Rudd.
Ashraf went to fight for the terror group in April 2015 while studying A-level law at a British educational establishment in Dhaka, Bangladesh – Rudd removed his citizenship in 2017 on the basis he posed a potential threat to national security, stating she believed he wouldn’t be left “stateless” as he also has Bangladeshi citizenship.
In the first case of its kind to reach the High Court, Ashraf’s father Abdullah Islam, himself a barrister, challenged the decision – he wishes for his son, now 22, to return home as he’s currently held in a Kurdish-run military prison in Syria and could face the death penalty.
However, his case has now been rejected, with presiding judge Justice Pepperall ruling his arguments had “no merit”.
“Ashraf is in detention in Syria and at risk of trial in the Middle East and the possible imposition of the death penalty entirely because of his own actions in travelling to Syria and engaging in jihad. The only action taken by the Home Secretary in this case has been to deprive Ashraf of his citizenship. He’s not in peril in Syria because of that decision,” he stated.
Pepperall went on witheringly suggest Ashraf had joined the group despite having “every advantage in life”, and said suggestions the teenager merely made a ‘mistake’ was a “masterful understatement”. He made his ruling despite acknowledging Ashraf was likely to not be permitted to settle in Bangladesh and indeed face the death penalty.
“Ashraf got himself to Syria and might well have committed serious criminal offences in the Middle East. However repugnant his possible fate might be to British values, any British citizen who commits serious crimes abroad is subject to local justice and cannot simply demand the British government extricates him from a situation of his own making in order that he can face the more palatable prospect of justice in a British court,” he concluded.
The ruling is likely to further inflame debate about returning jihadists, which has been ongoing in the UK since Shamima Begum – a British-born woman who left the country in February 2015, aged 15, to become a Daesh bride. Her citizenship was revoked in February this year – some said it set a dangerous precedent, while others, including her own brother and father, supported the decision. Her Daesh husband has said he wishes to return to the Netherlands alongside Begum, but the Dutch government stated that they do not plan to help repatriate him or reunite his family.
In addition to this, the ruling raises questions over whether Donald Trump’s threat of dumping up to 2,500 Daesh fighters in US forces’ custody into European countries – including “France, Germany, various places” – if those nations do not accept them voluntarily.
According to Trump, US forces have captured over 10,000 prisoners of European origin, while EU countries are reportedly reluctant to take back in people who joined the group.