UK plans to seize passports of Britons with suspected terror links
LONDON: Police will be given temporary powers to seize
passports at UK borders of Britons they suspect are travelling abroad to fight
with terror groups. It is one of the new measures announced by the Prime
Minister to deal with the threat to the UK from Islamist militant groups
fighting in Iraq and Syria.
Islamic State (IS) has taken over large areas of the
two countries in recent months and a number of Britons have joined it, pledging
allegiance to the insurgents. David Cameron said IS was a direct threat to
every European nation, and claimed around 500 British nationals had gone to the
region to fight in the conflicts there.
It is feared some could return to the UK with
battlefield experience and try to carry out terror attacks at home. The PM’s
announcement comes just days after Britain’s terror threat level was raised to
severe - the second highest - meaning an attack was highly likely.
He said the Government would “work up plans” for
discretionary powers to exclude British nationals from the UK. And he also told
MPs it was ‘abhorrent’ that British citizens who pledge allegiance elsewhere
were able to return to the UK and pose a threat to national security.
He said airlines will have to give UK authorities
information on passenger lists to help identify Islamist fighters and also
comply with security screening requirements. And if the companies do not agree,
then their flights will not be able to land in Britain, the PM added.
He said for extremist suspects already in the UK, the
Government will introduce stronger locational constraints on them under TPIMs
(Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures). These will include enhanced
use of exclusion zones and through relocation powers.
Cameron said, “Adhering to British values is not an
option or a choice. It is a duty for all those who live in these islands so we
will stand up for our values, we will in the end defeat this extremism and we
will secure our way of life for generations to come.”
The measures were announced after late-night Coalition
talks, where there were thought to have been several disagreements. The Lib
Dems were keen to maintain civil liberties but the Government was under
pressure to act after Britain's terror threat level was raised.
They were also under
pressure from Labour to return to control orders under which suspects are kept
under virtual house arrest.