News that three British girls, Shamima Begum, Kadiza Sultana, and Amira Abase, had travelled with such apparent ease to Turkey in order to join ISIL forces in Syria will come as no surprise to despairing counter terrorist police and UK Border Force officers working at UK air and sea ports.
Figures show thousands of illegal immigrants are disappearing through the UK’s porous borders every year, raising questions about Britain’s ability to catch jihadist terrorist suspects returning to the country or would be jihadists leaving the country.
Of equal interest will be the identification of Jihadi John as Mohammed Emwazi and the circumstances of his departure from the UK that eventually led him to his murderous tasks in Syria. Given the fact that Emwazi had clearly been on the radar of the security services since 2006, it begs the question as to how eventually he too was able to pass unnoticed through our borders.
The Home Office data shows a dramatic increase in the proportion of immigrants who vanish after being stopped at border checks for carrying false passports or incorrect visas
Seaports handling coach-loads of visitors, and border checks on the Eurostar route at Lille in France, are believed to have been particularly vulnerable to illegal immigrants in recent years.
Figures released by the Government under Freedom of Information laws showed that 3,527 immigrants absconded after failing border checks last year. Only 846 were found, meaning 76 per cent – about 2,700 – remained at large.
As the statistics detail only those individuals who have been challenged by border officers, the true scale of illegal immigrants evading security is likely to be far higher.
The data emerged at a critical time for national security, after David Cameron and Theresa May, the Home Secretary, warned of a “generational struggle” against British jihadists who had travelled to fight with terrorists in Syria and Iraq.
According to the Government, at least 500 Britons have made the journey to fight with the Islamic State (IS)…..Labour MP Khalid Mahmood says 2,000 jihadists have travelled to Syria and Iraq from the UK – a fourfold increase on official estimates!
Ministers believe that Britain faces a grave threat from battle-hardened fighters who seek to return to carry out attacks on home soil.
MI5 is understood to be investigating the deaths of 20 British jihadists in Iraq and Syria and seeking to establish whether the fighters are merely claiming to be dead as “cover” to allow them to return to the UK undetected.
The Government has refused to say how many Britons had been arrested at UK borders in connection with terrorism in Syria, adding to concern the figure is very small and that the borders are worryingly porous.