Alleged ISIS fighter's son, 7, seeks to have passport renewed

A seven-year-old Irish citizen currently in Belarus, whose father allegedly fought for Islamic terror group ISIS in Syria, has brought a High Court challenge aimed at getting his passport renewed.

A seven-year-old Irish citizen currently in Belarus, whose father allegedly fought for Islamic terror group ISIS in Syria, has brought a High Court challenge aimed at getting his passport renewed.

Dublin-born Abdul Malik Bekmirzaev and his mother, Iryna Paltarzhytskaya, who is a citizen of Belarus, were deported to the city of Glubokoe in the north of that country from a refugee camp Turkey earlier this year.

The whereabouts of Abdul's father Alexandr Bekmirzaev, who came to Ireland in 1999 and became a naturalised citizen in 2010 and who departed for ISIS-controlled Syria a few months after his son's birth, is unknown.

The boy and his mother are fearful and want to return to Ireland because of the Belarusian response, where it is claimed there are no proper or adequate control measures in place regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.

Last February, the boy's mother applied to the Minister for Foreign Affairs to have his Irish passport, which was confiscated by the Turkish authorities, renewed.

As of yet no decision has been made by the Minister in regards to the application.

Arising out of that failure the boy, who is represented by Michael Lynn SC, Colin Smith Bl and instructed by Wendy Lyon solicitor, has brought judicial review proceedings against the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Minister for Justice and Equality.

Mr Lynn told the court today that this was an unusual case, but had a straight forward legal point at its heart.

Counsel said what was complicating matters was that Ms Lyon had been informed the passport was being withheld because the Minister for Justice intends to revoke Alexandr Bekmirzaev's Irish citizenship

This is because the Dept of Justice believes a 2001 marriage by the boy's father to a woman called Likeesing Anna or Lekeesing Anastacia Johnson, who is believed to be a British national, in 2001 was one of convenience.

It was on foot of that marriage which enabled Mr Bekmirzaev to remain in Ireland and ultimately obtain Irish citizenship in 2010.

Counsel said that marriage was dissolved in early 2010, and in December that year the boy's parents were married in a ceremony in Belarus. Abdul was born in Dublin in April 2013, and in July or August that year the boy was granted an Irish passport.

Counsel said that the exceptional delay in making the decision to renew his passport has endangered the boy's health and well-being.

Abdul, he added, had not been offered consular assistance, and he is being denied the right to return to Ireland.

Counsel added that it was unlawful at this stage to seek to revoke the boy's father's citizenship in so far that it may have a retrospective effect on the boy's Irish citizenship.

Counsel added that the boy's rights and benefits of Irish citizenship are also being interfered with and that he is being severely prejudiced by the ongoing delay.

Counsel told the court, a few months after Abdul's birth his father, who had converted to Islam in the 1990s, travelled to Syria.

Counsel said that while media reports suggested that Mr Bekmirzaev become radicalised and went to Syria to fight for Islamic State, his wife claims that he travelled there following a mental breakdown.

In early 2014, Abdul and his mother went to Syria for what was intended to be a short-term visit. However, they remained in a part of that country controlled by ISIS for some time.

Following the collapse of the Islamic state in late 2018 the family were captured by Kurdish soldiers, and they were separated, counsel said.

The boy was placed in a woman's prison with his mother, before they were moved to different camps in Syria and Turkey, counsel said.

In January, the boy and his mother were deported to Belarus. Mr Bekmirzaev's current whereabouts are currently unknown and his wife fears that he may be dead.

The boy and his mother have been living in Northern Belarus since their deportation from Turkey, but want to return to Ireland.

In his action, the boy seeks orders requiring the Minister for Foreign Affairs to issue the boy with a new Irish passport, or that the Minister make a determination in relation to the application.

He further seeks declarations including that the Minister for Foreign Affairs delay in making a decision in relation to the application to renew the passport is unreasonable and contrary to his right to a decision in a reasonable time.

If necessary the boy also seeks an injunction preventing the Minister for Justice taking any further steps to revoke the applicant's father's Irish citizenship, and an order quashing the Minister's decision that the father's 2001 marriage was a marriage of convenience.

Permission to bring the challenge was granted on an ex-parte basis by Mr Justice David Barniville.

The case will come come back before the court next week.

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