Islamist indoctrination of London schoolgirl in family home was as bad as sex abuse, judge rules
Girl known only as ‘B’ will be taken away from her parents after being exposed to ‘insidious’ Islamic State propaganda at home, High Court judge says
By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent
4:38PM BST 21 Aug 2015
A schoolgirl “fully-radicalised” by Islamist propaganda must be removed from her family home, a High Court has ruled, comparing her parent’s treatment of her to child sex abuse.
A Family Division judge said the 16-year-old from east London must be taken away from her “deceitful parents”.
Describing the girl as “intelligent, educated, ambitious”, the judge said she had already attempted to travel to Syria to become a jihadi bride.
The family home was full of propaganda from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the terrorist group also known as Isil and Isis, including pictures of beheadings, material on bomb-making and how jihadists should “hide” their identity, the court heard.
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”.
B was removed from a flight to Turkey in December 2014 and made a ward of court, the judge said.
Her parents appeared to co-operate with police and social workers to stop her and her siblings accessing online terrorist propaganda.
But in June this year 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 Islamic State material.
The findings showed the parents had carried out “a consummately successful deception” of the authorities, the judge said.
The judge 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 teenager’s well-being.
The judge referred to the case as “a tragedy for a promising young woman”.
He said B, who had been taught at home, had said she wanted 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.
“She has amassed an array of A and A*s – two of which arrived yesterday during this hearing,” Mr Justice Hayden said.
“It should have been for her and her family a happy day. It was not.”
The teenager was now on bail and under police investigation after she, her parents and other siblings had been arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 on suspicion of possessing information likely to be useful to those who wanted to commit terrorist acts, the court heard.
The judge said the family passports, which had been held by solicitors, should be transferred to the Metropolitan Police.
The judge 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 place on an electronic tag.
The judge said throughout the court hearing the family’s 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 has 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.”