Written by Martin Bentham
London Evening Standard
25 July 2010
Threat to UK: Abid Naseer
More foreign terror suspects should be returned to their home countries because of the threat they pose to national security, the Government's terrorism watchdog said today.
In a report to Parliament, Lord Carlile of Berriew said it was “not acceptable” that “large numbers” of dangerous overseas citizens were evading deportation on human rights grounds when their presence in Britain was placing the public in danger.
He said that ministers should adopt a more “imaginative approach” which would pave the way for more deportations by providing the courts with better evidence that mistreatment abroad would not occur.
His comments follow the controversy over al Qaeda terrrorists Abid Naseer and Ahmad Faraz Khan, who were given permission to stay in Britain by the Court of Appeal because of the risk that they would be mistreated if returned to Pakistan, despite a judge concluding that they posed a threat to national security.
“It is not acceptable for large numbers of persons to remain in the UK when their presence is contrary to the national interest and national security,” Lord Carlile says.
“More could be done to persuade home countries of the importance of ensuring that returnees are treated in accordance with human rights standards; and to ensure that case-specific, credible, realistic and verifiable evidence to support return is placed before the courts.”
Lord Carlile backs the banning of groups such as al-Muhajirouna and its offshoots The Saved Sect and Al Ghurabaa, which have been involved in protests against returning British troops, on the grounds that they are prepared to use or encourage terrorism.
Allowed to stay
A graphic illustration of terror suspects' success in evading deportation was provided by a recent Court of Appeal decision on al Qaeda member Abid Naseer and his accomplice Ahmad Faraz Khan.
Mr Justice Mitting said Naseer posed “a serious threat” to national security and that Khan was a “committed Islamist extremist” and that they had been plotting to inflict “mass casualties” in the North-West.
But he vetoed the Government's bid to deport them to Pakistan, saying that it would breach their human rights because there was a risk that they would be tortured.
Naseer, 23, has since been arrested after an extradition request from the US where he is accused of involvement in a plot to bomb the New York subway.
Soon after his arrest, Khan, 26, decided to return to Pakistan voluntarily — an indication that his fear of mistreatment was not as great as had been suggested by his lawyers.