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Police 'should pursue terror suspects into mosques'
POLICE should be more willing to enter mosques or other places of worship when pursuing terrorist suspects, the government's terror-law watchdog urged yesterday.
The recommendation follows the case of an accused terrorist who escaped after police decided not to follow him into a mosque. He remains on the run.
Lord Carlile, the lawyer who acts as independent assessor of terrorism legislation, also had stern words for Muslim faith leaders, insisting that they have a "clear civic duty" to co-operate with the security services. His report follows high-profile counter-terrorism cases that have led some Muslims to claim the British government is discriminating against them.
In the case which prompted the call, a British Muslim was under a government-imposed control order, restricting his movements, because ministers judged that he posed a threat to national security.
People under such orders are closely monitored by the police, but the 26-year-old man - who cannot be identified for legal reasons - escaped after entering a Manchester mosque last month. He is understood to have absconded while police following him remained outside.
Some reports have suggested that mosque elders refused to allow officers to enter the building and that the man escaped while the two sides negotiated. . . Since escaping, he is believed to have fled to Pakistan.
The watchdog's recommendation is that officers should routinely enter mosques in pursuit of control-order suspects they believe may be attempting to escape. "The straightforward approach would be to make it clear that if 'controlees' are in breach of anything other than minor aspects of conditions, the police will pursue them after allowing them a short time to emerge voluntarily," Lord Carlile wrote in a report to ministers, published yesterday.
The QC insists that police should always be appropriately respectful when entering mosques, but insists that Muslim leaders must not attempt to obstruct officers watching or pursuing suspects.
"Anyone knowingly giving shelter from legal obligations has a clear civic duty to facilitate compliance with the law," Lord Carlile writes, adding: "If they do not do so, they will have little cause for complaint if police enter their premises."