High court rules schoolgirl from east London should be taken away from deceitful parents and a household full of Islamic State propaganda
Mr Justice Hayden, sitting in London, said: I can see no way in which her psychological, emotional and intellectual integrity can be protected by her remaining in this household.
Press Association, Friday 21 August 2015…
A schoolgirl fully radicalised by Islamic State propaganda must be removed from her family home, the high court has ruled.
A family division judge said the intelligent, educated, ambitious 16-year-old from east London, who has already attempted to travel to Syria to become a jihadi bride, must be taken away from her deceitful parents and from a household full of terrorist propaganda – including pictures of beheadings and material on bomb-making and how jihadi should hide their identity.
Mr Justice Hayden, sitting in London, said the girl, who can only be referred to as B, was suffering psychological and emotional harm through exposure to extremism of a kind similar to that seen in sex abuse cases.
The judge said B was one of a number of cases within the London borough of Tower Hamlets where intelligent young girls, highly motivated academically had been captured and seduced by the belief that travelling to Syria to become what are known as jihadi brides is a somewhat romantic and honourable path for them and their families.
He said that after B was removed from a flight to Turkey in December 2014 and made a ward of court, her parents had appeared to cooperate with police and social workers to stop her and her siblings accessing online terrorist propaganda.
But in June, counter-terrorism officers carried out a protracted search of the family home and discovered a plethora of electronic devices, including those belonging to the father, containing Isis material which showed the parents had carried out a consummately successful deception of the authorities.
Hayden said of B: I can see no way in which her psychological, emotional and intellectual integrity can be protected by her remaining in this household. The farrago of sophisticated dishonesty of the parents makes this entirely unsustainable.
Drawing an analogy with sex abuse cases, the judge added: The violation contemplated here is not of the body but it is of the mind. It is every bit as insidious – and I do not say that lightly – as it involves harm of a similar magnitude.
The judge ruled that only a safe and neutral environment free from the powerful and pernicious influences of jihadi propaganda could now protect the teenagers wellbeing.
Hayden referred to the case as a tragedy for a promising young woman. He said B, who had been taught at home, had expressed wishes to study medicine at university and become a doctor and there was no reason to believe she would not fulfil that ambition following outstanding GCSE results.
He said: She has amassed an array of A and A*s ? two of which arrived yesterday during this hearing. It should have been for her and her family a happy day. It was not.
The teenager was on bail and under police investigation after she and her parents and other siblings were arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 on suspicion of possessing information likely to be useful to those who wanted to commit terrorist acts.
Hayden approved the family passports – which had been held by solicitors – being transferred to the Metropolitan police.
He said B had sent him a carefully written letter which was exceptional because of its flawless spelling, grammar and punctuation. She displayed strong loyalty to her parents and her siblings and conveyed the succinct message that she wanted to remain at home, even if that meant being tagged.
The judge said throughout the court hearing that the familys self-discipline had been striking as B and her parents sat betraying no emotion and remained impassive and inscrutable while he decided whether their family should be fragmented.
Referring to all the recent jihadi bride cases he had dealt with from east London, the judge said: In each case, these young women have boundless opportunities, comfortable homes and carers who undoubtedly love them. But they have been captured and seduced by the belief that travelling to Syria to become what are known as jihadi brides is a somewhat romantic and honourable path for them and their families.
There is no doubt in my mind that young women have been specifically targeted for that purpose. The reality is the future for such women in Syria, as we know, holds only exploitation, degradation and death. In other words, these children with whose future I have been concerned have been at risk of really serious harm, and as such the state is properly obligated to protect them.