Ji­hadi sus­pects will be stripped of their pass­ports, says PM

Sunday Express - - Front Page -

un­veil­ing new mea­sures de­signed to fill “gaps in our ar­moury”.

In­tel­li­gence and se­cu­rity ser­vice chiefs es­ti­mate that at least 500 Bri­tish cit­i­zens have gone to fight in Syria and pos­si­bly Iraq.

The Prime Min­is­ter told a press con­fer­ence in Down­ing Street: “What we are fac­ing in Iraq now with the Is­lamic State is a greater threat to our se­cu­rity than we have ever seen.”

The bar­baric be­head­ing of Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist James Fo­ley by Is­lamists – in­clud­ing a fa­natic thought to be Bri­tish – was “clear ev­i­dence” that the threat could not be ig­nored.

Mr Cameron said: “In Afghanistan the Tal­iban were pre­pared to play host to Al Qaeda, the ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“With the IS we are fac­ing a ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tion not be­ing hosted in a coun­try but seek­ing to es­tab­lish and then vi­o­lently ex­pand its own ter­ror­ist state.

“With de­signs on ex­pand­ing to Jor­dan, Le­banon, right up to the Turk­ish bor­der, we could be fac­ing a ter­ror­ist state on the shores of the Mediter­ranean and bor­der­ing a Nato mem­ber.”

Wor­ry­ing

The Joint Ter­ror­ism Anal­y­sis Cen­tre, a group of ex­perts at MI5, raised the ter­ror threat level fol­low­ing fears that Bri­tish ji­hadists are re­turn­ing from Syria and Iraq to carry out atroc­i­ties here at home.

Home Sec­re­tary Theresa May said the move meant a ter­ror­ist at­tack in the UK was “highly likely” but in­sisted she had not re­ceived in­tel­li­gence about any spe­cific in­ci­dent.

She said: “The threat level in­crease is re­lated to de­vel­op­ments in Syria and Iraq where ter­ror­ist groups are plan­ning at­tacks against the West.”

West­min­ster in­sid­ers were yes­ter­day spec­u­lat­ing that the Gov­ern­ment’s ter­ror­ism in­ves­ti­ga­tion and pre­ven­tion mea­sures could be strength­ened to put tougher re­stric­tions on ter­ror­ist sus­pects.

Some MPs are press­ing for the so­called “con­trol or­ders” in­tro­duced by the pre­vi­ous Labour gov­ern­ment but re­placed by the Coali­tion to be re­vived.

David An­der­son QC, the Gov­ern­ment’s in­de­pen­dent re­viewer of ter­ror­ism leg­is­la­tion, said the ter­ror­ist threat to the UK had been grad­u­ally build­ing over the sum­mer.

He said: “I was cer­tainly aware it has been inch­ing up in re­cent months.

“I wasn’t sur­prised by the de­ci­sion to raise the threat.”

Mr An­der­son pointed out that 1,800 peo­ple are thought to have been killed by ter­ror­ists in the Mid­dle East in the past year.

He said: “What is hap­pen­ing in the Mid­dle East is very wor­ry­ing.”

Shadow Home Sec­re­tary Yvette Cooper said Labour would sup­port leg­is­la­tion to crack down on sus­pected ter­ror­ists and urged min­is­ters to con­sider re­viv­ing full con­trol or­ders. At a Down­ing Street press con­fer­ence, Mr Cameron added: “My first pri­or­ity as Prime Min­is­ter is to make sure we do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to keep our peo­ple safe.

“The am­bi­tion to cre­ate an ex­trem­ist caliphate in the heart of Iraq and Syria is a threat to our own se­cu­rity here in the UK.

Poi­sonous

“The ter­ror­ist threat was not cre­ated by the Iraq war 10 years ago. It ex­isted even be­fore the hor­rific at­tacks on 9/11, them­selves some time be­fore the war.

“This threat can­not be solved sim­ply by deal­ing with per­ceived griev­ances over Western for­eign pol­icy. Nor can it be dealt with by ad­dress­ing poverty, dic­ta­tor­ship or in­sta­bil­ity in the re­gion – as im­por­tant as th­ese things are.

“The root cause of this threat to our se­cu­rity is quite clear. It is a poi­sonous ide­ol­ogy of Is­lamist ex­trem­ism that is con­demned by all faiths and faith lead­ers.”

Mr Cameron will press other Euro­pean Union lead­ers for tougher ac­tion to track sus­pected ji­hadists dur­ing talks at a sum­mit in Brus­sels to­day.

Mr Cameron said the Gov­ern­ment was tak­ing a “tough, in­tel­li­gent, pa­tient and com­pre­hen­sive ap­proach” to the is­sues.

He stressed that there had al­ready been sig­nif­i­cant steps, in­clud­ing mak­ing it eas­ier to seize pass­ports of sus­pected Bri­tish ji­hadists, and emer­gency leg­is­la­tion to make com­mu­ni­ca­tions data avail­able to po­lice and se­cu­rity ser­vices was “al­ready de­liv­er­ing re­sults”.

But he warned that com­bat­ing the ex­trem­ist ide­ol­ogy would take “years and prob­a­bly decades”.

The Prime Min­is­ter also in­sisted that mil­i­tary ac­tion should not be ruled out com­pletely, say­ing that “learn­ing the lessons of the past does not mean there is not a place for our mil­i­tary”.

Bri­tain’s of­fi­cial ter­ror­ist threat was last raised to “se­vere” in 2010 but re­duced the fol­low­ing year.

It was also at that level between 2006 and 2009.

Mr Cameron: ‘Tough ap­proach’

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