The UK’s reviewer of terrorism legislation, Jonathan Hall KC, will argue that British women, including those who are former citizens, should be allowed to return from Syria, including Shamima Begum, who joined the Islamic State in 2015 when she was 15 years old.
Hall will cite the position taken by allies such as the United States and highlight concerns about the “cubs of the caliphate” program, which is believed to be breeding a new generation of extremists in northern Syria.
Women are less likely than men to have fought or played battlefield roles and may have had less autonomy to leave.
They now comprise the majority of UK-linked individuals detained.
Begum’s case has sparked debate, and she is reportedly one of around 60 British women and children being held by Kurdish authorities in Syria without the means to leave without UK government assistance.
While Hall acknowledges the risks posed by IS returnees, he argues that decisions need to be made, especially given the changing risk environment and the repatriations of other European countries.
He will confess to having no answer to criticisms that his proposal is discriminatory, but statistics show that men have predominantly been involved in terrorism plots.
He will also argue that the less time UK-linked children spend in the “cubs of the caliphate” program, the better.
Former Home Secretary Priti Patel has argued against repatriating Begum or other threats to the UK’s national security.
She cited the risks and resources involved in doing so, and the UK’s status as an outlier that takes a tough stance on the threat posed by IS returnees.