James Foley beheading: Boris Johnson says anyone returning from Iraq and Syria should be arrested

The Mayor of London called for increased legal powers against Isis suspects

Anyone attempting to return to the UK from visiting Iraq or Syria “without a good reason” should be classified as a potential terrorist and arrested, Boris Johnson has said.

The Mayor of London, who will be standing as a Tory MP next year, wants the law to be reversed so there is a “rebuttable presumption” of guilt until people are proved innocent.

“Do nothing now, and the tide of terror will eventually lap at our own front door,” he wrote in the Telegraph.

As many as 500 British citizens are believed to be fighting for the Islamic State (Isis) and other terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria, including a former London rapper then known as L Jinny, who is believed to be one of many UK-born terrorists under investigation for the murder of James Foley.

The beheading of the American journalist, recorded in a gruesome propaganda video, appears to have been by a British militant with a London accent nicknamed “jihadi John”, who authorities are close to identifying.

Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary pictured here in a YouTube video showcasing his rapping Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, pictured here in a YouTube video showcasing his rapping as L Jinny, is one of many British suspects believed to be under investigation Writing in his Telegraph column, Mr Johnson said: "I suspect most of us don’t give a monkey’s what happens to this prat in heaven, whether he meets virgins or raisins – we just want someone to come along with a bunker-buster and effect an introduction as fast as possible."

He argued more needs to be done to prevent foreign extremists travelling to Iraq and Syria, including Turkey shutting the border.

Read more: Britain close to identifying 'jihadi John'
We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
London rapper turned jihadist believed to be under investigation for James Foley murder

“We need to make it crystal clear that you will be arrested if you go out to Syria or Iraq without a good reason,” he wrote.

“At present the police are finding it very difficult to stop people from simply flying out via Germany, crossing the border, doing their ghastly jihadi tourism, and coming back.

“The police can and do interview the returnees, but it is hard to press charges without evidence.

“The law needs a swift and minor change so that there is a ‘rebuttable presumption’ that all those visiting war areas without notifying the authorities have done so for a terrorist purpose.”

Video: British Isis members feature in recruitment video

The Mayor reflected concerns aired by the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, that if Isis is taken down, its foreign militants will flee back to their countries of birth and continue their jihad at home.

He urged for the return of Tony Blair’s control orders, scrapped by the Coalition, which could keep terror suspects in their homes without access to phones or the internet.

If known militants fighting with extremist groups choose not to return, he called for the removal of their British citizenship.

The “Isil wackos” – as Mr Johnson dubbed them – control an area the size of the UK across Syria and Iraq, including cities, industry, oil reserves and a population of around six million people.

READ MORE: JAMES FOLEY BEHEADING SPARKS INTERNATIONAL MANHUNT FOR 'JOHN' THE BRITISH JIHADIST
WHY BRITISH JIHADISTS GO TO FIGHT IN SYRIA
BRITISH FIGHTERS 'MAKE UP A QUARTER OF FOREIGN JIHADISTS'

Their reportedly well-funded military capability sent the Iraqi army fleeing in retreat as Isis went on a bloody rampage through the country earlier this year and countless civilians have died in the Sunni group’s vicious persecution of Shias, Yazidis, Christians and other minorities.

Still scarred by the British involvement in the previous Iraq and Afghanistan war, David Cameron has repeatedly vowed not to put “British boots on the ground”, despite mounting outrage about Isis atrocities and its potential power if its dream caliphate is established.

The Government has not yet joined the US in launching air strikes against militants, instead sending humanitarian aid, working with the Iraqi Government and international security services.

Mr Johnson appeared to support increased intervention in his Telegraph article, saying Isis territory needed to be “closed down now”, before becoming a “giant training ground for terrorists”.

“No option looks very appealing, to put it mildly; and yet doing nothing is surely the worst of all,” he wrote.

“If we let Isil (Isis) get their way, then we will be acquiescing, first, in a gigantic and violent change in international borders…we will be allowing a new and hideous regime to be born.”

Mr Hammond has previously said “significant powers” were already available to deal with people planning to travel to Syria or Iraq to fight including withdrawing passports, monitoring them overseas and arresting them on their return.

“I don’t think this video changes anything,” he told Radio 4. “It just heightens awareness of a situation that is very grave and that we’ve been working on for many months.”

James Brokenshire, the minister for immigration and security, said the Government already has the power to remove citizenship under the Immigration Act and control orders had been ineffective because of legal challenges.

“People seeking to travel to engage in terrorist activity in Syria or Iraq should be in no doubt we will take the strongest possible action to protect our national security, including prosecuting those who break the law," he added.

“The police, security services and Border Force are actively working to identify, detect and disrupt terrorist threats, including from British fighters attempting to return to the UK."

Read more: Robert Fisk: 'Isis's social media skill is no reason for US to start talking of apocalypse'
US hostage Theo Curtis freed by Jabhat Al-Nusrah after two years' captivity
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Mystery man: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in '‘Gone Girl'
films... by the director David Fincher
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
stoptober... when the patch, gum and cold turkey had all faied
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Welsh Year 6 Teacher required in Barry

£100 - £110 per day + Plus travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job:...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Welsh Teacher Year 2 required in Caerphilly

£100 - £105 per day + plus Travel Scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job:...

Year 4 Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to work in ...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?