Islamic Extremist Tried to Spirit Her Three Children Away to Syria
Islamic extremism is a blight on British society which can affect innocent children as well as their radicalised parents. In one case, the High Court made care orders in respect of three young children who were en route to Syria with their mother when police intervened.
When arrested at Birmingham Airport, the woman was about to board a flight to Munich with her children, the youngest aged five. Their father was believed to have left Britain in 2013 and was understood to be in Chechnya with a terrorist group. The mother claimed that she and the children were going on holiday, but examination of her luggage revealed an itinerary leading directly to Istanbul.
Hidden in a packet of painkillers were telephone numbers, including one of a man suspected of being an Islamic State (IS) fighter in Syria. The mother’s mobile phone contained IS emblems and images of children with firearms and wearing balaclavas. The family home appeared to have been abandoned and another mobile phone revealed the mother’s frequent contact with a prominent member of IS. The children were immediately removed from her care under a police protection order.
The facts of the case emerged as a local authority sought findings of fact and judicial approval of its care plan for the children. The Court found that the mother had been driven by religious ideology and had lied almost throughout her evidence. Had her plan to take the children to Syria succeeded, they would have been exposed to extreme risk of serious harm, if not death.
The children, through their guardian, expressed the wish to return to their mother’s care. However, the Court found that their best interests demanded that they should continue to live in the care of their maternal grandparents, under supervision by social workers, as they had done since soon after their mother’s arrest.