Ministers to investigate claims British suicide bomber Jamal al-Harith handed £1m taxpayer compensation to Isis

Security minister Ben Wallace moves to reassure Commons pay-outs closely monitored

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Thursday 23 February 2017 15:16 GMT
Jamal al-Harith, who reportedly carried out a suicide bombing attack in Iraq, was a former Guantanamo Bay detainee
Jamal al-Harith, who reportedly carried out a suicide bombing attack in Iraq, was a former Guantanamo Bay detainee (AP)

Ministers acted on Thursday to limit the fallout over fears that a British suicide bomber handed Isis up to £1m of taxpayers’ money paid to him by government in compensation.

Security minister Ben Wallace told the House of Commons he would ensure any agreements relating to the pay-outs to Jamal al-Harith and others are monitored correctly, with attempts made to recover money in the event of a breach.

Earlier in the day ex-home secretary David Blunkett said the Government needed to be clear over whether restrictions on the money had been robust enough to stop it getting into the hands of the extremist group Harith eventually joined.

The situation has called into question Theresa May’s record as Home Secretary, given that Harith was both paid the money and allowed to flee to Syria on her watch.

Speaking to MPs on Thursday Mr Wallace replied: “I will go from here and make sure that where we have legally binding agreements that they are correctly monitored and where there is a breach, we shall recover any monies we can.”

A civil case with Harith and other former detainees alleging ill treatment by MI6 while they were being held by the Americans at Guantanamo Bay was settled by David Cameron's coalition government in 2010.

It has been claimed Harith, previously known as Ronald Fiddler before converting to Islam, received £1m compensation – a sum denied by his family.

Conservative Philip Davies said taxpayers had been “ripped off” as he criticised those who “celebrated the release” of Harith, who was reportedly killed in an Isis suicide bomb attack in Iraq.

Ms May’s spokesman has until now refused to answer questions on how Harith managed to slip through the net, or on whether Ms May approved of the compensation given to him in 2010, at the start of her tenure in the Home Office.

Mr Blunkett said on Thursday morning: “We need to examine whether the money laundering requirements in these cases have been robust enough, not because we know that any of this money has been transferred out of the country, but because we need to reassure people.”

He added: “We need a logical and rational response and I hope that the Government will give that, because they haven’t over the last 24 hours.”

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