Who is Shamima Begum and why did a Canadian spy smuggle her for Islamic State?
A British schoolgirl and her friends fled the UK to join IS in 2015. Now, it has been revealed that they were smuggled there by a Canadian secret agent.
A longstanding legal case in the United Kingdom had some bombshell news on Wednesday night after it emerged a Canadian spy was involved in the traffic of British children to Syria during its occupation by Islamic State, also know as IS.
The agent, named Mohammed Al Rasheed, helped facilitate the journey for those seeking to join the terrorist group. The BBC obtained a dossier on Rasheed that contains all the information on how he carried out the job including private data gathered from his hard drive. Rasheed was arrested in 2015 with information on the girls location.
The allegations were first revealed in a British Times article analysing a new book by one of its former reporters, Richard Kerbaj. He has a book being published on August 31 named, The Secret History of the Five Eyes, which is an investigation into the intelligence group of the US, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.
An hour after the story broke, the BBC reported that they had seen information that show the agent in question had shared Begum’s passport details with the Canadian secret service. The agent also claims to have smuggled other Britons to fight for IS.
Serious questions would need to be asked of both the Canadian and British governments for their culpability in ferrying British citizensm and in Begum’s case children, to an active warzone. The documents, seen by the BBC, show the Britons’ details were passed to the Canadian embassy in Jordan. The Canadian government stayed quiet even after the London police released an urgent appeal for information. Once they were aware they told the head of British counter-terrorism Richard Walton. Neither group went public with their information.
“The notion of saying nothing and hoping for the scandal to go away worked in Canada’s favour with regards to keeping the lid on how an agent for CSIS had smuggled western children and young adult volunteers into Syria while their British allies struggled to contain the flow of aspiring jihadists fleeing the UK to join Isis,” says Kerbaj in his book.
Who is Shamima Begum?
While she may be a new name for an American audience, Shamima Begum is well known in the UK. She left the UK aged 15 to join IS with two friends and is at the centre of a long court case over whether she has the right to be a British citizen.
After moving to Syria in 2015, the British Home Office, headed by Sajid Javid, revoked her British citizenship, arguing she would not be rendered stateless as her family is of Bangladeshi origin. The Bangladeshi government denied she was a citizen, but the British government overruled the appeal and said it was in the public interest to keep begum out of the UK.
The centre of her defence rests upon her argument that she is the victime of child trafficking. Begum told the BBC’s upcoming I’m Not A Monster podcast: “[Rasheen] organized the entire trip from Turkey to Syria… I don’t think anyone would have been able to make it to Syria without the help of smugglers.
Tasnime Akunjee, the lawyer for Begum’s family, said it was “shocking” that a Canadian intelligence asset was a key part of the smuggling operation. “Someone who is supposed to be an ally, protecting our people, rather than trafficking British children into a war zone,” he added.
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