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Until the barbaric murder of David Haines, the government's main response over the summer to the prospect of terrorists returning home-raising the threat level in August from "substantial" to "severe" — seems to have been merely playing with words. Nothing much else was done, other than demanding more details of airline passengers and debating with the Lib Dems over whether returning Islamic State fighters should suffer "stronger locational constraints". For those (and I am one) who consider that the only "locational restraint" an ex-IS fighter should suffer is within a secure prison cell, this seems a woefully inadequate response to the return of "Jihadi John" and the prospect of more Lee Rigbys. However, Mr Cameron's caution is correct: most ideas from the "something must be done" brigade, calling for new laws to "control" these miscreants, are unnecessary. Their demand to stop our own citizens from returning home is legally and morally questionable: on the contrary, what we need is a full-blooded commitment to prosecute all returning IS fighters who are British citizens. This is our duty and we need no new laws to do it.

Crime against humanity: The Scottish aid worker David Haines (left) and his Islamic State murderer, who is suspected to be British

The proposals over the summer for new laws to deal with returning jihadis have included:

Reversing the burden of proof
   Both Boris Johnson and the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, want to cut "the golden thread of the criminal law" so that terrorist suspects are treated as guilty until proven innocent. Terrorism could have no greater triumph.

A terrorist Asbo

   No beheadings, presumably, after the 10pm curfew. This is a restraint for unruly youths, not for murderous fanatics.

Broader powers for the Home Secretary to deprive suspects of British citizenship
   But making your own citizens stateless is contrary to international law and to Conventions we ratified, for good reason, in 1954 and 1957. The UK has always refused to accept the right of other states to remove citizenship from their nationals resident here, and so force the UK to take responsibility for their safety and wellbeing, and we must hold ourselves to the same standard. The UK punches above its weight precisely because of its adherence, more than other powerful states, to international law and conventions. Besides which, there has for 800 years been a promise in Magna Carta (original clause 42) that all citizens have a right to return "except in the common interest of the realm for a brief period during wartime".

Bring back Control Orders
   They were abandoned for very good reason — they were ineffective, massively expensive (16 police and intelligence officers required for each order) and subject to constant judicial intervention. The only way to control an IS fighter is to confine him in prison until his case can be tried — and if he is found guilty, to confine him in prison as long as the law allows.

A new crime of going abroad to fight for terrorists
   We have an old one — the Foreign Enlistment Act of 1870, and it has never worked. It did not deter George Orwell from fighting in Spain, or ex-SAS mercenaries from training Pablo Escobar's fighters in Colombia. Will it catch Jews who move to Israel to enlist in the army and fight in Gaza?
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Kevin T
October 24th, 2014
1:10 PM
What we should do is declare their decision to fight for an enemy abroad as renunciation of their citizenship. Destroy their passports and take away their right to return. Why do we want such filth, and dangerous filth at that, back in our country?

amcdonald
October 3rd, 2014
1:10 AM
Or our politicians could all grow beards and pretend to be imams and muslim scholars and dictate to uk`s muslims (while telling us Islam is a religion of peace). Theresa May etc could wear a false beard. It would cost next to nothing. How islamified are they all already ? In the Spectator Douglas Murray asks why is Theresa May pretending Islam is a `religion of peace` ? Why are all politicians robotically saying it ? Venal PR to secure their promotions, pensions and future job prospects ? Is it the new political islamified Stepfordism ? In 2 weeks the Peoples Assembly Against Austerity will be protesting in London. Germany has scrapped student tuition fees. Westminster is more like a foreign occupying power that`s lost all decisional capability.

Crumbs
September 30th, 2014
11:09 PM
In most cases, and with the help of taxpayer-funded human rights lawyers, it will be impossible to prove that they didn't spend a year hiking in the Black Forest. Recall how few and how belated have been the prosecutions arising from the Holocaust. We're going to have to put enormous resources into tailing the little b-----s once they arrive back, so we can prosecute them without mercy every time they drop a fag end. (The state has had no qualms about doing it to Tommy Robinson.) We had better start by bugging every mosque and Muslim school staffroom, and get on with building a lot more prisons. (The prison regime should be seriously deterrent - banning smoking has been found to have that effect on ordinary criminals. In the case of Muslims, the only halal diet available should be vegetarian, prayers should be outside in all weathers, and cells should be searched weekly using dogs.)

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