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Terror Suspects Face Controversial Mosque Ban

The monitoring of suspects must be tightened after Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed fled in a burka, the Defence Secretary says.


The Home Office is considering banning terror suspects from visiting controversial mosques, Sky sources say.

Suspects subject to Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (Tpims) would not be allowed to worship at mosques on a Home Office's list, the sources said.

The plan could also clamp down on the amount of time they spent at mosques, the sources said.

The tougher restrictions would form part of a plan to further restrict terror suspects' freedoms after Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed escaped from a London mosque by dressing in a burka earlier this month.

Pressure is mounting on the Government to explain how the al Shabaab-linked suspect managed to escape surveillance despite being the subject of a Tpim.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond told Sky's Murnaghan programme that lessons needed to be learned from the case.

"The security services and the police face a huge challenge monitoring very large numbers of potential threat streams and we are acutely conscious that the terrorist only has to get lucky once - we have to get lucky every time," he said.

"Because of the large numbers of potential threats that we are monitoring and managing, it is inevitable that every now and again that one will slip through the net.

"When that happens we have to learn the lessons, we have to tighten the system."

Theresa May
Home Secretary Theresa May has come under fire since Mohamed fled

Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper MP, said her Government counterpart Theresa May was "belatedly trying to close the stable door that she herself threw open" with the stricter measures.

"This Home Secretary repeatedly ignored warnings that ditching relocations would increase the risk that terror suspects would abscond," she said.

"After losing two out of the ten suspects she's been forced to admit there's a problem. But her hands are tied by her own legislation.

"If Theresa May has finally realised that she did the wrong thing by weakening terror controls, she should apologise. And David Cameron should take over the crucial decisions on terror suspects as its clear the Home Secretary can't be trusted to get it right."

Imam Ajmal Masroor told Sky News that the plan was a "crazy idea".

"They're talking about restricting mosques, listing mosques, deciding if the mosques are dodgy then restricting all individuals from their rights to worship," he said.

"What's going to be happening to those mosques? Are they going to become the focus for EDL and other racist groups to attack?

Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed
CCTV of Mohamed leaving the mosque in a burka

"These are divisive policies in my view and if individuals are committing crime intelligence services and our security forces have failed in keeping a tag on them, why are they blaming Muslims and the mosque for it?"

A hunt involving the Metropolitan Police's counter terrorism command, MI5 and the UK Border Force has so far failed to track down Mohamed.

But he is not the first person to breach a Tpim since they were introduced to replace control orders in early 2012.

Last December, Ibrahim Magag, who is understood to have attended terrorist training camps in Somalia, absconded from a Tpim notice after ripping off his electronic tag. The police search for him is continuing.

Tpims were introduced in place of controversial control orders that individuals could be placed on indefinitely.

The control orders allowed forced relocation, curfews of up to 18 hours a day, electronic tagging and vetting of visitors.

The Coalition moved to the new system after sustained anger of the system, which some said amounted to virtual home arrest.

Tpims saw forced relocation scrapped, the curfews were replaced with a requirement to stay overnight in a house and they would no longer be indefinite and would instead need renewing every two years.

It has been revealed that before Mohamed escaped he had been twice remanded in custody for allegedly breaching controls imposed on him.

The 27-year-old was released from custody despite facing 20 charges for breaking the restrictions Tpim and the earlier control order.

Mohamed is currently seeking damages from the Government in a human rights legal challenge involving allegations of torture.