Shamima Begum stripped of UK citizenship. Supplied
Shamima Begum stripped of UK citizenship. Supplied

The Jihadi bride dilemma

It sounds on the face of it like a politically incorrect reality show.

This week the world met one of the Real Housewives of ISIS, British citizen Shamima Begum, who at the grand old age of 15 decided to head to Syria back in 2015 with two female school chums to find love and adventure inside the Islamic Caliphate. The three teenagers stole family jewellery to pay for their flights and left the London suburb of Bethnal Green for the self-proclaimed ISIS capital of Raqqa.

Things didn't go according to plan.

The other two girls met and married foreign jihadists who were killed soon after in air strikes. Cadiz Sultana married a Somali, and not long after he died, she lost her life too in the allied bombings of the ISIS stronghold.

Amira Abase married an 18-year-old Australian terrorist, Abdullah Elmir, aka the "Ginger Jihadi", whom ASIO believes was killed just weeks after the young couple tied the knot in 2015.

There were reports last year that Abase had died too, but these have been denied by the most famous member of this schoolgirl trio, Shamima Begum, who made world headlines this week when she popped up in a Syrian refugee camp to share her tale of woe.

You would have to scour the planet long and hard to find a more deluded and audaciously entitled idiot than young Shamima.


Former Sydney teen Abdullah Elmir the ‘Ginger Jihadi’ is believed to have been killed in 2015. Picture: Supplied
Former Sydney teen Abdullah Elmir the ‘Ginger Jihadi’ is believed to have been killed in 2015. Picture: Supplied


Having landed herself in this awful mess, Begum has now used several excruciating interviews to tell the British people that they have a moral obligation to bring her home.

In doing this she has used her new baby, fathered by some Dutch weirdo who signed on for some ISIS action, as the ultimate bargaining chip, saying Syria is no place to bring up a child.

Despite vying for mother of the year status with this request, she remains ambivalent about the manner in which ISIS goes about its business.

She said she had no real issue with beheadings as by her reading of the Koran they were "Islamically" OK. She also stated that the murder of 20 people, 10 of them schoolgirls, by ISIS operatives at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester was unfortunate, but no different from the allied bombings of ISIS strongholds.

It is no surprise that Begum has outraged Britain, the fury exemplified by the journalist Piers Morgan, who said simply that Begum should "go f***k herself and rot in hell".

It's a sentiment with which many of us would concur. It is also one that is challenged by the little problem of a legal system that holds that no person can be rendered stateless, regardless of their crimes.


Shamima Begum says she’s “willing to change” and has pleaded for “mercy” after being stripped of her UK citizenship. Picture: BBC
Shamima Begum says she’s “willing to change” and has pleaded for “mercy” after being stripped of her UK citizenship. Picture: BBC


To this end, the Shamima Begum case has real implications for Australia. Our intelligence services believe there are dozens of Australian women who have found themselves in the exact same situation by travelling to Syria to support ISIS, in some cases marrying ISIS fighters.

Of the 200 Australians who went to fight in Syria, about 110 are still believed to be alive, and many of them are women. In addition - horribly enough - there are believed to be 70 Australian children who were taken to or conceived in this conflict. In the same way that Begum holds British citizenship, these Aussie jihadi brides hold Australian citizenship, meaning Canberra does not actually have the power to deport them anywhere, unless they potentially hold dual citizenship with another nation.

In Begum's case, the British Government is trying to argue that because she has Bangladeshi ancestry, she by default also has Bangladeshi citizenship and should go to Bangladesh even though her brief life has been spent just a short stroll from London's Brick Lane.

There is a growing view that this tactic will fail, with many lawyers saying the Government has no basis in law to dump Begum on the Bangladeshis.


Shamima Begum with her baby boy in the al-Hawl refugee camp in Syria. Picture: Supplied
Shamima Begum with her baby boy in the al-Hawl refugee camp in Syria. Picture: Supplied


Moreover, there's a national security argument as to the wisdom of letting a woman who is more than susceptible to radical jihadist views just disappear angrily into the streets of Dhaka, where she could potentially plot her form of revenge.

In reading up for this piece I discovered some interesting information about one of the Australian brides of ISIS who is now reportedly back here in Oz. The Australian reported last year that the woman travelled to Syria in late 2015 with her Australian husband, an ISIS terrorist described by one counter-terrorism officer as a "hard-core fighter'' well known to authorities.

They had a child in early 2016 while living near the Iraqi city of Mosul, which at that time was under ISIS control. Shortly after the child was born, the woman's husband was killed.

Apparently the woman at this point became terrified and tried to escape, which is no mean feat under a regime where women can't leave their homes without a male chaperone.

But she escaped and made it to Turkey, where she contacted Australian diplomats, and after ASIO and the AFP decided she posed no threat to national security, she was brought home to Sydney but has since moved to an undisclosed location somewhere in our midst.

We are told that the authorities are keeping an eye on her. You'd like to think that's the case. While my sentiments on this are wholly in line with those of Piers Morgan, the legal reality is that there appears to be no alternative to taking these people home.

I suspect that many Australians would be happier if they were permanently institutionalised rather than the subject of occasional visits from our intelligence community to make sure they weren't about to revert to form.

It is an unnerving thought, especially when you factor in those 70 poor children who have grown up in this carnival of horrors.

Who knows what long term effects these kids will have suffered.