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Bring home female jihadists? Beware the trope of women as victims

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Islamic State is on the verge of total defeat. As a result, many of the remaining foreign fighters who travelled to the caliphate are coming out of the woodwork. One of those is Shamima Begum, a former student from the United Kingdom who at the age of 15 travelled along with two other friends to join IS in 2015.

Social media photo of Tareena Shakil.

Now, after four years in the caliphate and currently in Kurdish custody, where she just gave birth to another child, Begum is asking to return back to the UK. Those foreign fighters from Western countries who have been captured, such as Begum, are arguing that they should be subject to the same Western laws and systems they so forcefully denounced and fought against.

Begum is a perfect illustration of the complexities involved in repatriated foreign fighters, especially Western female foreign fighters, and having them tried in their home countries.

While moral and legal obligations may dictate that their country of citizenship should be responsible for bringing the likes of Begum to justice, the reality is that many of them pose a serious security threat to their home societies, and it remains difficult to prosecute and convict them in Western courts.

This undated photo issued by the Metropolitan Police shows Shamima Begum, who ran away from Britain as a teenager to join Islamic State extremists in Syria four years ago.Credit:AP

Collecting evidence in a war zone to successfully prosecute someone for committing a terrorist offence, or even to have aided or abetted terrorism, is very difficult. Whatever untainted information and evidence obtained on foreign fighters is........

© The Sydney Morning Herald