Shamima Begum's lawyers: ISIS campaign to attract recruits was 'sophisticated and successful'

Shamima Begum's lawyers said it was "well documented" that ISIS was "cynically grooming the vulnerable and young to join their movement", citing the government's own Strategy for Countering Terrorism from 2018.

The government document said ISIS had a "well-organised online propaganda campaign" which involved using the internet to groom young people in the UK to travel to Syria.

Approximately 60 women and girls had travelled to ISIS-controlled territory, as part of a "campaign by ISIS to target vulnerable teenagers to become brides for jihadist fighters", including 15 girls who were aged 20 years or younger, according to figures from the Metropolitan Police.

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Dan Squires KC, for Begum, described ISIS as a "particularly brutal cult" in terms of "how it controls people, lures children away from parents, brainwashes people".

"They sought to attract recruits from Western countries and had a sophisticated and successful system for doing so," Mr Squires added.

"It is also true that one of the things they did was to groom children in order to offer them as wives to adult men."

Begum's friend and schoolmate, Sharmeena Begum, also then aged 15, travelled to ISIS-controlled territory in Syria on 5 December 2014.

Shamima and her two schoolfriends, Khadiza Sultana and Amira Abase, left Britain two months later, on 17 February 2015, and travelled through Turkey to Syria.

On 10 December 2014, five days after their friend's departure, an assessment was conducted by Bethnal Green Academy, their school, headed "risk identification".

It recorded Begum as being "at risk of radicalisation," stating there was a risk "that she may leave home and school and possibly exit the country" and a "chance she may go to Syria".

On 5 February 2015, the police attended Bethnal Green Academy.

They gave Begum and her friends a letter about the "disappearance" of Sharmeena Begum and asked them to deliver it to their parents, but the letters were never passed on.

Samantha Knights KC, also for Begum, said the government had an obligation to prevent trafficking, identify perpetrators, and assist victims' "physical, psychological and social recovery".

"Importantly, victims should not be punished for actions as a result of their exploitation," she added.

The Home Secretary failed to consider whether Begum was prevented from leaving ISIS-controlled territory because she was a "child bride" facing threats of violence, abuses of power, and other forms of coercion or persuasion, her lawyers said.

"It is well-known that once in ISIS-controlled territory in Syria, girls and women who did in fact try to escape their husbands and ISIS, were detained and violently punished, as well as having their passports confiscated, which also prevented escape," they said.

However, a senior officer from MI5, referred to as Witness E, told the tribunal that Begum "would have known what she was doing".

"In my mind and that of colleagues, it is inconceivable that a 15-year-old, an A-star pupil, intelligent, articulate and presumably critical thinking individual, would not know what ISIL was about," the officer said.

"Our function was to provide the national security threat to the Home Office and that is what we did.

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"We assess whether someone is a threat and it is important to note that victims very much can be threats."

The "key assessment" that Begum was a threat to national security came because she "travelled to Syria and was aligned to ISIL", also known as ISIS.

Three other factors were also considered - comments made by her family to a lawyer, that she was present until the fall of the so-called Caliphate, and her own media interviews.