For the first time, suspected Islamist terrorists are being prevented from returning to the UK, the home secretary has said, as she warned that members of the Manchester bomber’s terror network could still be at large. As questions continue over how the intelligence services failed to monitor the movements of attacker Salman Abedi, Home Secretary Amber Rudd refused to rule out further anti-terror laws to clampdown on suspected terrorists, the British media reported. Temporary exclusion orders make it unlawful for the subject to come back without engaging with UK authorities.
Rudd refused to say how many times they had been used, but confirmed to BBC in an interview: “We have started to use them.” The home secretary also admitted that the authorities did not know how many Britons had returned from fighting with Islamic State or other extremists in Syria. Manchester bomber Salman Abedi is reported to have travelled to Libya in 2011 during the school holidays to join his father, Ramadan, in the fight against Muammar Gaddafi.
It has also been suggested Abedi “most likely” went to Syria but Turkish officials reportedly said they had no record of him travelling to the country. Asked to comment on reports that the security services missed opportunities to monitor Abedi, Rudd said: “I wouldn’t rush to conclusions, as you seem to be, that they have missed.” Pressed on whether Abedi was “red-flagged” to the security services and if there could be a review of current procedures, Rudd said: “We won’t shy away from looking at what we can do to keep people safe. We are in constant discussion with the security services and the police to make sure they have the right tools they need.”
Rudd also said “potentially” other members of Abedi’s group could still be free and “we can’t be entirely sure that (the operation) is closed”. Her comments came after police issued CCTV stills of Abedi, wearing glasses and casual clothes, in a plea for information about his movements between May 18 and the attack four days later.
Rudd said yesterday: “It’s an ongoing operation. There are 11 people in custody, the operation is still at full tilt, in a way. Until the operation is complete, we can’t be entirely sure that it is closed.” The home secretary said ISIS was trying to “weaponise” young Britons and defended the work of the UK’s security services following claims that warnings about Abedi were not followed up.