Almost 20 suspected terrorists exploited the asylum crisis in Britain to enter the country illegally from northern France last year, intelligence sources have revealed to the Daily Mail newspaper.
A total of 19 adult males linked to terrorist organizations — some of whom have links to the Islamic State — arrived in small boats across the English Channel last year among the 45,755 individuals who have since claimed asylum and currently reside in taxpayer-funded migrant hotels.
Seven of the individuals are understood to have been the subjects of active investigations in other countries before entering Britain, five of whom have reported affiliations with the Islamic State.
Of the 19 suspects, five are Iraqi nationals, five are Iranian, four came from both Afghanistan and Somalia, and one arrived from Libya.
According to the newspaper, the 19 suspects are now under surveillance by security services and counter-terrorism police. However, authorities will have great difficulty in removing them from the country due to their pending asylum applications and the protection now afforded to them by Britain’s human rights laws.
“It’s a real problem and not something we’re able to easily stop,” a security source told the newspaper.
“Once they’re here we can monitor them and limit any potential threat they pose, but it adds to the overall surveillance burden.”
David Barrett, the newspaper’s home affairs correspondent, explained the suspects couldn’t be turned away after arriving illegally among asylum seekers in small boats, adding that “human rights laws and international refugee conventions require they be given an opportunity to claim the right to live in this country indefinitely.
“It is understood there can be no criminal prosecutions because the evidence against them is based on intelligence material – which cannot be used in courts – and sources say the authorities’ hands are tied,” Barrett added.
The report will add further weight to the Conservative government’s efforts to push through a new immigration bill that will allow for the detention and deportation of anyone who enters the country illegally.
Natalie Elphicke, the Conservative MP for Dover, which is the face of Britain’s asylum crisis, said: “People will rightly be concerned that terror suspects have been able to enter our country in small boats and not be detained. It’s a national scandal.”
Fellow Conservative MP Bob Seely described the report as “appalling and deeply concerning.”
“Our security agencies have enough on their plate without having to increase monitoring to cope with an influx of foreign terror suspects,” he said, adding that “those who oppose government measures to halt the small boats crisis frankly need a reality check.”