Canadian intelligence helped smuggle Shamima Begum and other Britons to Syria to join Daesh over the years, a new book has claimed.
According to Richard Kerbaj, former security correspondent of The Sunday Times, his upcoming book 'The Secret History of the Five Eyes' states that Canadian intelligence recruited a human trafficker named Mohammed Al-Rashed when he applied for asylum at the Canadian embassy in Jordan.
After photographing the passports of Begum and her friends, claiming that he needed proof of identity to buy transport tickets, Rashed forwarded those images to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS).
The escape to Syria and Begum – who hailed from Bethnal Green and was only 15 years old at the time of the incident in 2015 – and her friends were then reported by the UK's Metropolitan Police Service, which issued an urgent appeal asking anyone who had seen the teenagers after they went to Gatwick Airport.
Canada stayed silent, however. It was only when Turkish authorities arrested Rashed and discovered the travel documents and bus tickets belonging to the teenagers in his possession, did they find the link. Turkiye informed the UK, which was then convinced by Canada to conceal its role, according to the book.
According to the BBC, too, it stated that it had obtained files proving the agent claimed to have shared Begum's passport details with Canada, and that he had smuggled other Britons to fight in Syria for Daesh.
The outlet quoted a CSIS spokesperson as saying that he could not "publicly comment on or confirm or deny the specifics of CSIS investigations, operational interests, methodologies or activities". A British government spokesperson also reportedly stated that "It is our long-standing policy that we do not comment on operational intelligence or security matters."
Begum is now 23 and currently stuck at a detention camp in Syria after her British citizenship was revoked. If the claim regarding her being trafficked by a Canadian intelligence agent proves to be true, there is speculation that it could assist her case for having her citizenship restored and being allowed to return to the UK.
Tasnime Akunjee, the lawyer for Begum and her family, stated that it was "shocking" to learn that someone working for Canadian intelligence played a key role in the smuggling operation. Canada, he said, "is supposed to be an ally, protecting our people, rather than trafficking British children into a war zone". He added that "Intelligence-gathering looks to have been prioritised over the lives of children."