Embarrassing revelations of the alleged cover-up by western intelligence regarding how they smuggled Shamima Begum and her two friends from Bethnal Green, London, into the arms of Daesh terrorists, has prompted a face-saving pledge by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to open an inquiry.
Trudeau pledged yesterday to "follow up" on shocking revelations that a spy working for Canadian intelligence trafficked British schoolgirls into Syria. "I know there are questions about certain incidents or operations of the past and we will ensure to follow up on this," pledged the Canadian Prime Minister.
The commitment to carry out an inquiry followed shocking revelations of the alleged cover-up between the UK and Canada over the smuggling of Shamima, who at the time was 15 years old. The conspiracy is detailed in a new book The Secret History of the Five Eyes, by Richard Kerbaj, a former security correspondent of the Sunday Times. Five Eyes is the intelligence-sharing alliance between Britain, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The book was published yesterday and is based on interviews with world leaders and more than 100 intelligence officials.
According to Kerbaj, Canadian intelligence recruited a human trafficker named Mohammed Al-Rashed when he applied for asylum at the Canadian embassy in Jordan. Begum and her friends were helped from Turkiye into Syria by Al-Rashed who is thought to have helped dozens more Britons and organised the travel of Jihadi fighter and their brides into Syria.
Al-Rashed photographed the passports of Begum and her friends on the pretext that he needed proof of identity to buy domestic transport tickets then forwarded the images to his handler with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) at the Jordan embassy.
Around the same time the UK's Metropolitan Police Service issued an urgent appeal asking anyone who had seen the teenagers after they went to Gatwick Airport. Canada, however, stayed silent about information it had about the three girls. It was only when Turkish authorities arrested Al-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.
CSIS is said to have largely succeeded in covering up the role it had played in the recruitment and running of Al-Rashed. The agency's deputy director was deployed to Ankara, apparently to beg forgiveness for failing to inform the Turkish authorities that they had been running a counterintelligence operation in their territory.
Tasnime Akunjee, lawyer for the Begum family, called for an inquiry into what the police and intelligence services knew. "Britain has lauded its efforts to stop Isis [Daesh] and the grooming of our children by spending millions of pounds on the Prevent programme and online monitoring," he is reported saying in the Times. "However, at the very same time we have been co-operating with a western ally, trading sensitive intelligence with them whilst they have effectively been nabbing British children and trafficking them across the Syrian border for delivery to Isis all in the name of intelligence-gathering."