British-Moroccan woman who joined ISIS loses appeal to return to UK from Syria

Mother-of-three, identified as U3, cannot be reunited with her children in the UK

The case of U3 was the biggest case on citizenship heard by an immigration tribunal since the UK's highest court ruled on the case of Shamima Begum, pictured, who left the UK for Syria in 2015. AP
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A British-Moroccan woman stripped of her citizenship after travelling to Syria with her husband to join ISIS has lost an appeal to return to the UK to join her three children.

The woman, named only as U3, claimed she only went to Syria to save her marriage with an extremist who beat, kicked and subjected her to extreme violence during six years of marriage.

The ruling was the first significant decision in the UK about depriving someone of their citizenship since the country’s highest court ruled last year that Shamima Begum, who left the UK to join ISIS as a teenager, would not be allowed to return.

The woman, now aged about 30, travelled to Syria via Turkey with her husband and two children, then aged 2 and 1, in 2014. The couple had another child in 2016.

She claimed that she had never been radicalised or even knew about ISIS atrocities before she travelled to the country. But it was heard at a special immigration hearing that she lied to family and friends by claiming that she was in Turkey when she had already crossed the border to Syria.

The tribunal heard that the woman had been a victim of abuse at the hands of her husband even before they married in 2011 and he allegedly beat her with an electrical cable during their time in ISIS territory in Syria. After she remonstrated with him when he took another wife, he beat her with a metal rod that he used to clean his gun, according to a ruling published on Friday.

The woman last saw him in 2017 as they tried to escape separately to Turkey from Syria as ISIS was defeated on the battlefield. The woman was captured as she made her way to the border with the assistance of a people smuggler, according to court documents.

The woman learnt the same year that she had been stripped of her British citizenship because she posed a security threat if she was allowed to return.

Her children were returned to the UK in 2019 and she has remained in contact with them via video messaging. She appealed to a special immigration tribunal for the decision on her passport to be quashed so they could be reunited.

Lawyers for U3 argued that the assessment was wrong and that she had never been radicalised or posed a security threat.

But the special immigration appeals commission ruled that the UK government had not acted unreasonably in barring her from the country.

The court said that the government could “rationally assess, in April 2017, that U3 was ideologically aligned with ISIS when she left for Turkey and continued to be so aligned after.”

The ruling added: “It does not matter whether we ourselves agree with that view.”

Updated: March 08, 2022, 10:23 AM