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Canadian spies broke their own rules to smuggle Shamima Begum into Syria

The revelation will strengthen the 21-year-old's legal efforts to return to the UK as lawyers claim she was a victim of illegal trafficking

Shamima Begum's lawyers are seeking to overturn the decision to strip her of her UK citizenship [Sam Tarling]

Canadian spies broke their own rules and potentially the law by helping smuggle British child bride Shamima Begum into Syria, it has emerged.

The disclosure will strengthen Ms Begum’s legal efforts to return to the UK by reinforcing her claim that she was a victim of illegal trafficking.

Lawyers for Ms Begum, who is now 21, have claimed there is “overwhelming evidence” that she was a victim of trafficking and argue the Government has a legal duty to investigate the claims. They are seeking to overturn the decision to strip her of her UK citizenship, which bars her return.

She was just 15 when she and two other schoolgirls from Bethnal Green in east London travelled to Syria via Turkey in February 2015.

This summer it was revealed that it was Mohammed al-Rashed, a double agent working for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and Islamic State, who smuggled them into Syria.

Now it has emerged that CSIS apparently broke operational rules in place on February 15 which state: “Human sources will carry out their tasks on behalf of the service without engaging in illegal activities.”

Shamima Begum was smuggled into Syria when she was 15 [Sam Tarling]

Trafficking people is also an offence under the Canadian Criminal Code and an international protocol on the practice of which Ottawa is a signatory.

Not aware of that situation’

Steven Blaney, who was public safety minister at the time the girls were trafficked, told The Globe and Mail newspaper in Canada that he was not aware of the covert operation and that CSIS should have acted within the law.

Mr Blaney said he was never asked and did not authorise CSIS to run an operative who was smuggling Islamic State recruits into Syria, including the underaged girls.

“It is sensitive but the truth is the best thing. My office was not aware of that situation,” he said. “We have to act within the law. … I can hardly see how we could have let this happen or authorised it. It is way too dramatic.”

He added: “It is a sad story because they [teenage girls] were trafficked.

Huda Mukbil, a former senior intelligence officer who ran CSIS agents before she left the agency in 2017, said the spy service should have sought the approval of Mr Blaney to conduct that type of intelligence operation.

The Ministerial Directions for Operations issued by the public safety minister at that time also said that CSIS must not only observe the rule of law, but that covert operations must consider the impact on “Canadian foreign-policy interests and objectives.”

Ottawa’s relations with Turkey were also damaged by running an operative in the country without its knowledge.

It has also led to friction with UK spy agencies. Scotland Yard was frantically searching for the missing teens in February 2015 and was unaware that they had been smuggled into Syria by an operative working for Canada.

It was only after Turkish authorities arrested Mr al-Rashed on Feb 28, 2015 that CSIS informed the chief of Scotland Yard’s counterterrorism unit that their operative had transported the British teens into Syria, according to The Secret History of the Five Eyes, a new book by author Richard Kerbaj that recounts parts of the informant’s story.


(c) 2022, The Telegraph


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