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Al Capone tactic to put screws on terror suspects

Andrew Gilligan in The Sunday Times

Extremists and terrorist suspects face “Al Capone-style” disruption of their lives or permanent exclusion from the UK if they try to return from fighting with Isis in Syria or Iraq.

The government’s Prevent anti-extremism initiative will also be given a big increase in spending and staff. The number of people working on the controversial programme will double by 2020.

Prevent officers will be appointed to tackle radicalisation in schools and colleges and there will be strong “pushback” against claims that the programme is anti-Muslim.The moves are part of a revamped anti-terrorism and extremism strategy, known as Contest, to be announced as soon as this week.

There will be tougher measures against returnees from ISIS. 30 holders of dual nationality have been stripped of their British passports so far; the new strategy is prepared to make persons who only hold British passports stateless if necessary.

Increased efforts to exclude British citizens from returning to the UK are likely to be controversial. Powers to strip dual nationals of their British citizenship have been used at least 33 times on terrorism-related grounds since 2010. They were ruled legal last week by the European Court of Human Rights.

Ministers can cancel the citizenship of single-nationality Britons, if they were previously citizens of another country, and “temporarily exclude” British-born citizens from returning to the UK. There is no power to permanently remove the citizenship of someone who was born British.

But there is power to treat them a traitors. and why not?

There are also plans to crack down on the benefits awarded to extremeists, use of prohibited drug legislation (which can be draconian used throughly - I remember 40 years the courts could and did order seizure of assets, property, vehicles, if they were in any way used in the drug offences, such as driving the car to travel to collect drugs, using their flat to plan the deals etc and we know that extremists frequently deal in drugs to finance jihad)

The prevent strategy is frequently cricised as being an attack on Muslims. The authorities intend to defend the policy more vigorously, and also to show that they are even-handed by pursuing  the so-called 'far-right'. 

We shall see. There is certainly growing public opinion that while the security services have done wonders in stopping atrocities the authorities have been weak and ineffectual in allowing the jihadists to prosper and flourish.