Son of alleged Islamic State terrorist brings High Court challenge over failure to renew passport
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A seven year old Irish citizen currently in Belarus, whose father allegedly fought for Islamic terror group ISIS in Syria, has brought a High Court challenge aimed at getting his passport renewed.
Dublin-born Abdul Malik Bekmirzaev and his mother, Iryna Paltarzhytskaya, who is a citizen of Belarus, were deported to the city of Glubokoe in the north of that country from a refugee camp Turkey earlier this year.
The whereabouts of Abdul’s father Alexandr Bekmirzaev, who came to Ireland in 1999, became a naturalised citizen in 2010 and who departed for ISIS- controlled Syria a few months after his son’s birth, is unknown.
The boy and his mother are fearful and want to return to Ireland because of the Belarusian response to the Covid-19 pandemic, where it is claimed there are no proper or adequate control measures in place.
Last February, the boy’s mother applied to the Minister for Foreign Affairs to have his Irish passport, which was confiscated by the Turkish authorities, renewed.
As of yet no decision has been made on that application.
Arising out of that failure, the boy has brought judicial review proceedings against the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Minister for Justice and Equality.
Michael Lynn SC, for the boy, told the court on Thursday this was an unusual case, but had a straightforward legal point at its heart – that the was entitled to a decision in relation to the application to have the passport renewed.
Counsel said what was complicating matters was that the boy’s solicitor Wendy Lyon had been informed by FF TD Niall Collins that the passport was being withheld because the Minister for Justice intends to revoke Alexandr Bekmirzaev’s Irish citizenship.
This is because the Dept of Justice believes another 2001 marriage on foot of his marriage to a woman called Likeesing Anna or Lekeesing Anastacia Johnson, who is believed to be a British national, in 2001 was one of convenience. It was arising out of that marriage the father got Irish citizenship.
Counsel said that marriage was dissolved in early 2010, and in December that year the boy’s parents were married in a ceremony in Belarus.
Abdul was born in Dublin in April 2013, and in July or August that year the boy was granted an Irish passport.
Counsel said that the exceptional delay in making the decision to renew his passport has endangered the boy’s health and well-being.
Abdul had not been offered consular assistance, and he is being denied the right to return to Ireland.
It is claimed it was unlawful at this stage to seek to revoke the boy’s father’s citizenship in so far that it may have a retrospective effect on the boy’s Irish citizenship.
Counsel told the court that few months after Abdul’s birth his father, who had converted to Islam in the 1990s, travelled to Syria.
Counsel said that while media reports suggested that Mr Bekmirzaev became radicalised and went to Syria to fight for Islamic State, his wife claims that he travelled there following a mental breakdown.
In early 2014 Abdul and his mother went to Syria for what was intended to be a short term visit. However they remained in a part of that country controlled by ISIS for some time.
Following the collapse of the Islamic state in late 2018 the family were captured by Kurdish soldiers, and they were separated, counsel said.
The boy was placed in a woman’s prison with his mother, before they were moved to different camps in Syria and Turkey, counsel said.
In January the boy and his mother were deported to Belarus. Mr Bekmirzaev’s current whereabouts are currently unknown and his wife fears that he may be dead.
The boy and his mother have been living in Northern Belarus since their deportation from Turkey, but want to return to Ireland.
Permission to bring the challenge was granted on a one side only represented basis by Mr Justice David Barnaville on Thursday. The case comes back next week.