Counter-Terrorism Chief Rejects British Passport Deal For Would-Be Extremists

From The Guardian:
Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism chief has dismissed the suggestion that those wanting to join Islamic State should be allowed to go in return for surrendering their British passports. Appearing before MPs on the home affairs committee, assistant commissioner Mark Rowley said extremists should not be allowed to leave Britain to join the terrorist group because they could return as hardened violent jihadists.

He was responding to the suggestion by Robert Quick, who served as Britain’s counter terrorism chief from 2008-09, that it may be better to have extremists surrender their passports rather than having them “fester” in Britain.

Quick told the Guardian a fortnight ago: “We should try and convince them not to go. If they want to go, you have to ask the question, are we better off, if they surrender their passports and go? It’s better than them festering away here. Should we say we’ll lay on charter flights to Syria; turn up with your passport and if you are over 18, if this is the life you want, then go?” But Rowley said he disagreed when questioned by MPs.

About 700 Britons have fled to join the “caliphate” declared by Isis, enforced by high levels of violence in Iraq and Syria.

Rowley said: “I think it’s the wrong idea. If you have a British citizen, why are you going to allow them to go somewhere where you think they are going to take part in murder and all sorts of awful acts? What about then coming back more trained, more angry, to this country? I think that’s completely unacceptable.”

Rowley said about a quarter of terrorism investigations now involved “vulnerable” people, including those with mental health issues, who were being targeted by Isis. Arrests in the UK continued to run at about one a day, MPs were told, and may be increasing.

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