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ISIS and children being taken to Syria

I have to say, even after years and years of doing child protection law, I never actually thought I’d see cases in Court where parents were trying to get their children to become terrorists and fight in a war. But we are seeing these cases, and as I understand it, the reported cases are the tip of an iceberg.

If you are advising someone in this situation, or advising a Local Authority where such a thing is suspected, the President’s decision in Re M (Children) 2015 is going to be mandatory reading. It is particularly useful since it sets out in detail the orders made to protect the children and to recover them, and is an excellent route-map for future cases. Rather than drafting from scratch and having to invent what needs to be done  (and I’ve an inkling of just how hard that is in such cases), there’s now a source for how to assemble a workable order that will do the job.


Click to access re_m_20_5_152.pdf

There is one final point I must emphasise in this connection. It is the point made by Hayden J in the Tower Hamlets case (para 18(iv)):
“All involved must recognise that in this particular process it is the interest of the individual child that is paramount. This cannot be eclipsed by wider considerations of counter terrorism policy or operations, but it must be recognised that the decision the court is being asked to take can only be arrived at against an informed understanding of that wider canvas.”

There’s a very good summary by Marilyn Stowe here, and I recommend that also


All agencies worked amazingly quickly and creatively to get these children back into the UK and save them from what would really be unthinkable, that they be pushed by their parents into taking up arms in a war zone.

About suesspiciousminds

Law geek, local authority care hack, fascinated by words and quirky information; deeply committed to cheesecake and beer.

8 responses

  1. This takes “nurture” to an extremely “un-natural” level.

  2. Pingback: ISIS and children being taken to Syria | Childr...

  3. Ashamed to be British

    I struggle with this a little, although I realise this is a serious matter on a much wider scale, it goes against the grain of Re A 2015, where the fact that the father being a member of an extremist group (The EDL) should not raise concern.
    I do not undervalue the nature of the seriousness by my comment, but wasn’t Re A all about letting parents … parent? In their own style with their own beliefs?

    • I think it was that membership ALONE in and of itself would not automatically amount to a risk of harm, but in Re A, the President was clear that the burden was on the LA to show why a parents membership of the EDL would pose harm to that particular child. I don’t think that anyone would be likely to consider that taking children from a safe place into a war zone in order that they could join the fighting would not put those children in harms way. (There are all sorts of other arguments about whether sometimes putting YOURSELF at risk is worthwhile in order to stand up for what you believe in)

      • Ashamed to be British

        I take your point. I’d never put my own children/grandchildren at risk.

        I have always been a little uncomfortable with politics entering the family court arena, which is what state intervention often is, we are losing the child welfare aspect of why we have family courts.
        However, I digress …

        The government are far too quick to decide what is right and wrong in other countries (I know it’s not as simple as that, but in summary) it’s really not for them to say.

        I am just about old enough to know what was happening in Ireland (spilling over into the UK) regarding the IRA in the 80’s/90’s, did the local authority remove all children of those who were involved? It was a war zone, the children were not safe and were indeed radicalised, but it was their cause, their belief and what they stood for.

        This country has not become ‘civilised’ by the people standing by and doing nothing, no sir, there have, historically, been many uprisings, civil wars, bringing death and misery, they have also brought down poverty, slavery, child labour, were our ancestors wrong to fight for us?

        I guess my point is, there are always going to be personal wars and opposition, why does anyone get to say whether it is right or wrong?

      • Very interesting points, as ever, Sandy. I am honestly not sure. As we know, when the Government agrees with protesters overseas, they are freedom fighters, when they don’t, they are terrorists. What’s the Shakespeare line “Treason never prospers, what’s the reason? Why, if it doth prosper, none dare call it treason”

        There’s that new dynamic in the ISIS storyline of young people wanting to sign up to provide medical support, and do we as a society condemn that or condone it? If we condone it, how do we stop those who want to go over and fight doing so under that guise? If we condemn it, how do we at the same time allow young people to sign up to help the Red Cross or Medicine Sans Frontieres? I honestly don’t know.

  4. Can we just ban any of them from coming back and remove their passports please? Like any civilized country that doesn’t want these people shouild do!!

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