Four years ago, Shamima Begum of Bethnal Green, London, 15, was your typical rebellious teenager.
Except that she didn’t express her rebellion by smoking the odd spliff, listening to rap and telling her parents to shut up. Instead she went to Syria to fight with ISIS.
As far as she was concerned, the world was strictly binary: there were the righteous (Muslims) and the infidels (everyone else). Since her native Britain was still predominantly infidel (even though her part of London wasn’t), she knew whose side she was on.
Her side blew up public transport, raped women, burned people alive, tortured them, tossed them off tall buildings, cut off their heads. That was just fine with young Shamima. In fact, “When I saw my first severed head in a bin, it didn’t faze me at all,” she says.
“I thought only of what he would have done to a Muslim woman if he had the chance.” What would that be? And who was the late possessor of the head in question?
Western soldiers don’t typically rape and eviscerate Muslim women, and was she even sure the victim was a soldier? As opposed to an intrepid tourist? An aid volunteer? One of those Doctors Without Frontiers?
Shamima didn’t know and didn’t care. All she needed to know was that the murdered man was white, quite possibly her British countryman.
We, on the other hand, would like to know something else. Was Shamima by any chance the one who had beheaded the victim? She’s a big girl, strong enough to swing a machete and obviously undeterred by any scruples.
I especially like the word ‘first’ in her chilling admission. How many more severed heads did she see? How many did she cut off?
Shamima is rather reticent on such details. Then again, Arafat once said, and the Algerian president repeated, that Islam’s best weapon is the womb of every Muslim woman.
It was that demographic weapon, rather than machetes and AKs, that Shamima verifiably wielded for Islam. In short order she produced two children, and don’t youngsters grow up fast these days.
Alas, postnatal care in ISIS isn’t quite up to even NHS standards. Both her children died, which didn’t prevent Shamima from getting pregnant with a third.
When recently, now 19, she realised that ISIS was being smashed to smithereens, and the chances of enjoying the sight of more severed heads were slim, Shamima decided she now wanted to come home (to Britain, that is), give birth in an NHS hospital and “live quietly with my child”.
My hearts’ strings are properly tugged, and I’m not the only one. A lively debate is under way as to whether Britain should welcome Shamima and other jihad brides back.
Those in favour argue that Shamima was only 15 at the time, and she was brainwashed. That doesn’t quite explain why she stayed with ISIS until its end, when she was already legally adult.
As to brainwashing, that argument is often used indiscriminately. Implicit in it is the denial of both free will and the demonstrable fact that some people are irredeemably evil.
I doubt that a youngster good at heart could be swayed to any cause by pictures of torture and mayhem, which abound on Islamic websites. And if she was so swayed, she isn’t good at heart.
Nevertheless Philip Collins of The Times is in favour of the red carpet. This even though he deplores what Shamima did and acknowledges she isn’t a nice girl.
Moreover, “she has not yet reached a state of repentance”. ‘Yet’ is a short word long on meaning. It suggests that in due course Shamima will reach such a blissful state, especially if “offered the counsel of the various rehabilitation programmes sponsored by the government”.
Mr Collins’s faith in such programmes is touching, unsupported as it is by any significant corpus of evidence. But when it comes from the heart, true faith is impervious to facts.
Since my faith is somewhat different, I’d be more open to a different possibility. Such as that, once Shamima’s child is taken care of, she’ll start blowing up other women’s children.
To his credit, Mr Collins acknowledges this risk, and agrees it should be assessed. He doesn’t seem to realise he has already done that, by admitting that Shamima remains an unrepentant jihadist:
“The only time that Ms Begum uses the language of shame it is about her own decision not to stay resolute in support of the caliphate. She is explicit that she does not regret going to Syria.”
However, she is a British citizen, argues Mr Collins. Therefore not letting her come back would violate the law and, when all is said and done, the rule of law is what separates us from ISIS.
I wonder, with all humility and respect, how well Mr Collins understands the English Common Law. I’m specifically referring to citizenship – and to one key precedent that elucidates the issue.
In 1946, William Joyce, aka Lord Haw-Haw, was hanged for treason, the last (I secretly hope the latest) person to suffer that fate in the UK.
Before the war this US-born Irishman led the National Socialist League, competing with the British Union of Fascists led by Oswald Mosley. Shortly before the war, he cheated his way to a British passport and slipped off to Germany.
There he became Goebbels’s leading English-language broadcaster, torturing British ears with his put-on toff accent: “Jahmany calling…”
After the war, he was charged with treason in Britain, but the case was far from clear-cut. Since Joyce had obtained his British passport on false pretences, his citizenship was null and void, argued the defence.
He was thus still a US citizen and as such couldn’t be guilty of treason to Britain because he owed no allegiance to it.
What hanged Joyce was a technicality springing from the ancient legal principle invoked by the prosecution: protectio trahit subjectionem, et subjectio protectionem (protection entails allegiance; and allegiance, protection).
Joyce might not have been entitled to a British passport, but he did use it to travel to Germany. Therefore he was under the protection of the British crown and owed allegiance to it.
That case is relevant to the Shamima situation because it establishes an unbreakable link between protection and allegiance, fully equating a British passport with protection.
That document, in other words, is a bilateral contract. One party exchanges its protection for the other party’s allegiance. Either party’s failure to comply with the terms of that contract thus constitutes forfeiture.
Since Shamima has manifestly withdrawn her allegiance from this infidel realm, the realm is within its right to withdraw its protection, otherwise known as citizenship.
Hence if she were to return, she should be charged with treason and spend the rest of her life in prison. Otherwise, harsh as it may sound, she belongs in that refugee camp or else Guantanamo. We can’t have too many jihadists here.
P.S. Ben Jaffey QC, acting for the Department of Health, told the High Court, “being a mother is no longer necessarily a gendered term… a man can be… a mother”. Just shows how backward the British are. Americans have been calling men ‘mothers’ for decades.