Iraq crisis: Security services could get greater powers to counter threat of jihadist fighters returning to Britain

Liam Fox makes warning as hundreds of Met Police Chief Cressida Dick also says that returning jihadists could be a 'problem for years to come'

Jack Simpson
Monday 23 June 2014 10:35
Fox has called on the government to reassess the powers given to British security services in the light of growth in jihadists returning to Britain
Fox has called on the government to reassess the powers given to British security services in the light of growth in jihadists returning to Britain

Former Defence Secretary Liam Fox has said the problem of jihadist fighters returning home from Syria is a “real worry” and one that might require a tightening of state monitoring powers.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, the former Minister of Defence from 2010 to 2011 said that the government needed to reassess the spending allocation and power given to the security services to ensure they can deal with the growing problem of jihadists involved in the Syrian conflict returning to Britain.

When asked by Marr whether the powers the security services had were adequate to prevent returning jihadists from entering the country, Fox said “That is a real question we are going to have to ask.

“Whether the security services have adequate resources for an increased threat, but also do the powers that they have reflect the increasing need”

He said: “You’ve got people at the moment in the light of Snowden saying that the state has too many powers and that the powers of the state need to restrict the powers they have.

“We better start to reconsider that.”

Fox hinted at the need for greater state powers and said a big debate was needed between the libertarians “that say the state must not get too powerful” and “pretty much the rest of us" that say the state needs to protect itself.

According to Fox, he said that returning jihadists were a “real worry” and a “problem that would be with us “for a long time” if we did not act.

He was adamant that the ”first duty” of the government was to protect its citizens and this may require greater powers being given to security services.

He also questioned those that were believed Britain should not take an active involvement in the situation in Iraq, saying “If we don’t get involved if we hunker down then there will be no backlash against us. That is utterly, utterly wrong.”

The words from Fox come after the Met Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick said that the number of British citizens returning from fighting in Syria could have risen to 500.

Speaking on the BBC’s The World This Weekend, Dick said that UK police forces would have to deal with the consequences of British fighters returning home from Syria for “years to come.”

Dick who is the head of the counter terrorism at the Met was reticent to say just how big of a problem returning jihadists had already been for the Met, however, it is believed around 50 people have been arrested for Syria-related offences since 2013.

The increase in debate around the radicalisation of British citizens has come up again, ever since an Internet recruitment video from Isis was released and is said to have included a number of of British members.

Reyaad Khan and Nasser Muthana, both 20 and from Cardiff, were both present on the video released by Isis appeared to show three British Isis members calling on young Muslims to get involved in the conflict in Syria.

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