Megan Specia

ISIS Cases Raise a Question: What Does It Mean to Be Stateless?

The New York Times


Shamima Begum was 15 when she became radicalized, left her home in London for Syria and joined the Islamic State, marrying one of its fighters. As the grous's grip on its last pieces of territory slipped, Ms. Begum, 19 and pregnant, fled to a refugee camp in northern Syria. When she met a British reporter there, she made one thing clear: She wanted to come home. But Britain’s Home Office informed her family by letter of its plans to strip her of her citizenship. The government says it is acting to protect the British public first. But a lawyer for Ms. Begum, who recently gave birth to a baby boy, said the move would render the British-born woman stateless.

The dilemma of what to do with citizens of Western countries who threw in their lot with the Islamic State before it was largely ousted from Syria has set off a debate over citizenship and the statelessness that might result from stripping some of them of their nationality.