It emerged in the Daily Mail recently that among those who illegally entered the UK in a dinghy last year were 19 suspected terrorists, several of whom are thought to have been members of the Islamic State group.
Despite the fact that several of these individuals were already under ‘active investigation’ by other countries when they arrived in the UK, they were able to cross the Channel, be processed by the Home Office and then put up in comfortable accommodation and handed £45 per week with which to do as they please. This could go on for months if not years given the continuing backlog of cases awaiting clearance. Why?
It is a bit surprising that we know anything of these 19 individuals. They have, after all, mostly destroyed their identification documents.
But why are they not kept under lock and key? It isn’t as if we haven’t experienced the tragic consequences of allowing terrorists to wander freely among unsuspecting communities before.
Take for example, Khairi Saadallah. He had fought in the Libyan Civil War for an Al-Qaeda affiliated organisation. In his asylum application, he said that he had only guarded hospitals and similar mundane, innocent activities. He lied, he gained asylum, he went on to murder three British men in broad daylight.
Or Ahmed Hassan, who bombed a train at Parsons Green in 2017. He had claimed that he was ‘being trained to kill’ for three months by Islamic State in his asylum application. He later said this was a lie concocted to improve his chances of asylum (whether that was a further lie is unclear).
We appreciate that the security services take these threats extremely seriously, as they should, and we have no doubt that attempted attacks have been foiled. Yet the level of surveillance and investigation necessary in respect of those with known terrorist links prompts the question, why they aren’t imprisoned? Indeed, it is profoundly worrying that Britain opens itself to such levels of risk by allowing known or suspected terrorists their freedom.
90,000 people have illegally entered the UK by small boat since 2018, most of whom have done their best to obscure their identity. One can only wonder how many more terrorists or potential terrorists have entered the country and whose violent past has not come to light.
It is clear that we have allowed in many people who go on to do significant harm. This is why the government must take a far more assertive stance towards anyone with a terrorist background. Such individuals should be locked up until they can be removed, ensuring no British citizen may be endangered by their presence.