A man claiming to be a 17-year-old refugee, who illegally entered Britain on a small boat via the English Channel, was actually a 42-year-old former ISIS fighter, a damning report by the Mail on Sunday newspaper has revealed.
The terrorist, known only as AJ, is understood to have arrived in Britain back in 2021 using a fake ID he purchased online. Upon entering the U.K., the Iraqi national claimed to be a 17-year-old refugee intent on claiming asylum and was subsequently placed in a local residential facility in London with unaccompanied minors for over a week.
The man is understood to have a thick beard, a receding hairline and multiple tattoos on his arms and neck.
Following age verification checks, the man was determined to be an adult and, like the other 50,000 plus arrivals via the English Channel in the last two years, was placed in a three-star hotel somewhere in Britain. Background checks later flagged the man as potentially dangerous, and he was apprehended.
The Mail on Sunday reported he is currently appealing a decision to have him deported with the assistance of taxpayer-funded legal aid. He claims to be suffering from depression and argues that deporting him back to Iraq would be a breach of his human rights.
“This is one of the most extraordinary cases we’ve ever encountered. It’s common for adult migrants to claim they are children, but we think this is the oldest person to make that claim,” a U.K. security source told the newspaper.
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“The brazenness of his claims was mind-blowing. He initially said he had fled to Britain alone after his farmer parents abandoned him, but his story had holes in it.
“He was also very clearly not the age he claimed to be. Some of the tattoos on his arms had been there a long time and had started to fade. He also had a thick beard and lines on his forehead and around his eyes. When we checked him on the Eurodac system, his true identity popped up, and his name was red-listed, meaning he is considered a potential threat to national security. He is known to have been part of ISIS in Iraq and took part in terrorism campaigns. We are now trying our hardest to get him out of the country,” they added.
The report claims AJ was first detected as a threat by U.K. and U.S. intelligence back in 2006 for terrorist activity in Iraq.
“This is another egregious example of why we must stop the boats – we need to secure our borders, crack down on this problem and detain and swiftly remove those who come here illegally,” a Home Office source added.
The British government is currently battling to pass new legislation that will give authorities the power to detain and deport all individuals who enter Britain illegally.
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U.K. Home Secretary Suella Braverman claimed “fair and patient” Brits have had enough of being “taken for a ride” by weak asylum laws costing taxpayers over £3 billion a year to accommodate over 180,000 asylum seekers with pending applications
The move has been criticized by human rights organizations, as well as Dunja Mijatović, the human rights commissioner for the Council of Europe who recently claimed the legislation would “add to the already significant regression of the protection of the human rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants” in Britain.
British conservatives, however, have praised the action the U.K. government intends to take, claiming the crisis on England’s southern shore has become unsustainable, is costing the British taxpayer more than £6 million per day to house new arrivals in hotels, and is a grave security risk.
The legislation’s compatibility with Britain’s international obligations to protect human rights is likely to be contested in the courts, and even the British government doesn’t know the extent to which the bill complies with existing human rights laws.
When announcing the bill earlier this month, Home Secretary Suella Braverman told the House of Commons she was unable to offer a guarantee of its compliance with human rights obligations due to the approach toward tackling illegal immigration being “robust and novel.”