The three children of a woman from Leicester who was arrested en route to Germany should live with their grandmother, the High Court has ruled.
She had been prevented from boarding a flight to Munich with them, on suspicion of planning to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State terrorist group, commonly known as Isis. Police found a mobile phone in her possession which showed children carrying guns and wearing balaclavas bearing the Isis logo.
The woman insisted that she had only been planning to take the children to visit their father in Germany but travel documents found in her luggage showed that the family had actually been bound for Istanbul, and that they had booked three nights’ accommodation in the city. A phone number hidden in a packet of paracetamol was linked to suspected Islamic State fighter and had been called hundreds of times.
The children were placed in temporary foster care.
Leicester City Council applied to the courts, seeking a finding that the mother had indeed been attempting to take her children to “war zone in Syria controlled by Islamic State”, thereby placing in them in mortal danger as well as exposing them to a significant risk of radicalisation.
In his ruling, Mr Justice Keehan noted:
“An initial examination of the mother’s mobile phone provided the police with sufficient evidence to arrest her, with one message reading: ‘Are you going for good?”
A search of the woman’s home in Leicester suggested that it had effectively been abandoned. She had disposed of many of her and the children’s belongings but taken important documents with her, including the children’s birth certificates and her own marriage certificate.
The evidence indicated the woman had also been in contact with jihadists and in receipt of funds them. She had not been truthful when giving evidence.
He had been left in “no doubt” that the mother had indeed been intending to join Islamic State, the Judge concluded. It would not, therefore, be in the children’s best interests to remain under her care and they should instead be sent to live with her parents.
“I found that it was plain that if the mother had succeeded in her attempts to enter Syria, and in particular to join Islamic State, the children would have been put at extreme risk of very, very significant harm, if not death.”