A spy for Canada is accused of smuggling a teenager into Syria in 2015, after she fled the United Kingdom to join the Islamic State group, according to BBC News.
Shamima Begum, then 15, was one of three teenage girls reported missing from an East London neighbourhood in 2015 after they allegedly fled to join ISIS.
By 2019, Begum was in a Syrian refugee camp, trying to find her way back to the U.K. However, the British Home Office denied her entry and stripped her of her citizenship, citing security risks.
Unable to return home, the BBC reports, she is still being held in a detention camp in northeast Syria.
Now, information gathered by international law enforcement and intelligence implicates Mohammed Al Rasheed with smuggling Begum and other British citizens into Islamic State territory while working as an intelligence agent for Canada.
According to documents obtained by the BBC, Rasheed went to the Embassy of Canada in Jordan to try to apply for asylum in 2013, and was told he would receive Canadian citizenship if he agreed to collect information about the activities of ISIS.
He then began helping people enter Islamic State territory in Syria from Turkey, while sharing their information with Canadian intelligence. He operated as part of an ISIS people-smuggling network for approximately eight months before he allegedly helped Begum enter Syria, the BBC reports. He was arrested in Turkey days later.
In light of these allegations, Tasnime Akunjee, the lawyer for Begum’s family, told the BBC the family plans to challenge the removal of her citizenship on the grounds that the British government did not recognize her as a victim of human trafficking when it revoked her citizenship.
“The U.K. has international obligations as to how we view a trafficked person and what culpability we prescribe to them for their actions,” he told the BBC.
Akunjee said he was shocked that a Canadian intelligence asset was part of the smuggling operation.
“Someone who is supposed to be an ally, protecting our people, rather than trafficking British children into a war zone,” he told the BBC.
“Intelligence-gathering looks to have been prioritized over the lives of children.”
In a media conference Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that while the Canadian intelligence services need to be “flexible” and “creative” in their fight against terrorism, they are bound by strict rules.
“There are rigorous oversight mechanisms that are in place with the clearances necessary to look into the operations and the decisions taken by intelligence services in their work to keep Canada and Canadians safe in a very dangerous world,” he told reporters.
“I know there are questions about certain incidents or operations of the past and we will ensure to follow up on this.”
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