British jihadists ‘walk through’ airports

Below is reproduced a letter from The Independent, 20 June 2014

You may recognise the author, he is one of life’s Good Guys, on the side of the angels;

I find what he had to say deeply disturbing;

“Concerns, recently articulated by David Cameron, referring to the number of UK and UK-based jihadists training and fighting abroad have been expressed by Special Branch and counter-terrorist officers for many years.

In 1995 at Heathrow I stopped two British passport holders who arrived from Pakistan, and the chilling documentation in their possession showed clearly that they had been comprehensively terrorist-trained.

Intelligence poured into Special Branch clearly illustrating the scale of the problem, yet in 1998 Jack Straw, then the Home Secretary, to the fury of police and immigration officers, abolished embarkation (departure) controls.

That means that even in today’s world, ridden with terrorism, 99 per cent of passengers will board flights in the UK without passing under the eyes of any UK law-enforcement officer.

The saving was £3m a year and successive Home Secretaries have ignored pleas for these controls to be reintroduced.

Former colleagues I have spoken to believe that despite the increasing number of arrests of returning jihadists, it is generally far too easy for most of these individuals to enter and leave the UK. As one despairing officer told me it’s a “walk in the park” and most trained UK jihadists remain below the intelligence radar.

Instead of shredding the morale of the police service, who of course will be in the front line when the predicted jihadist attack occurs, today’s Home Secretary, Theresa May, should listen to front-line counter-terrorist and Border Force officers and strengthen our borders.

Chris Hobbs


I just hope that no Home Secretary, current or future, has need to justify and defend this appalling lack of action. Our Border Security is a joke, only beefed up in response to an actual threat, otherwise anyone can come and go.


3 thoughts on “British jihadists ‘walk through’ airports

  1. Our (UK) border security has never been perfect since 1945 I suspect. There were “holes” during the Cold War in NW Scotland, with visiting Soviet trawlers which had minimal or no reception upon landing for example.

    ‘Persons of interest’ we know can enter and leave the UK without being stopped, whether by UK Border Force, Ports (SB) police officers and others. This happens even with the much criticised E-Borders programme and the alerts issued by the National Border Taregeting Centre (successor to JBOC).

    In theory NBTC / JBOC can issue alerts for embarkation and arrival. Whether there is enough information to intercept (if desirable) a ‘person of interest’ or to undertake other action is a moot point.

    Looking for performance data I found this: ‘NBTC results for alerts issued to the border agencies (Border Force, Police and SOCA) and resultant arrests include a total of 4,900 alerts between week commencing 9 December and 13 January 2013, resulting in 237 arrests’.


    I think border security should be thought about, rather than a simple call to be strengthened – with what? Some routes and points of entry are higher risk. Do we need a cruise liner, full of senior citizens to be examined?

    Jihadists invariably remain covert, although anecdote suggests some are stopped at the borders (with Schedule 7 stops).

    Our borders are not water-tight, they are part of our defences; they may provide an opportunity to act.

  2. Pingback: British jihadists ‘walk through’ ai...

  3. David Cameron talks of 450,000 British fighting in Iraq for ISIS. It is ridiculous that we cannot account for nearly half a million people leaving for this cause.
    Border security is a joke.

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