The independent terrorism watchdog has warned mistakes will be made when releasing offenders, as it emerged the Parole Board is considering letting nearly 100 terrorists out of jail.
There are 92 active and ongoing terrorism cases, several of which could go to parole judges to be determined next year, depending on how long it takes to gather the necessary evidence for hearings.
Independent Terrorism Law Reviewer Jonathan Hall QC said some of those released could reoffend such as Usman Khan, who murdered two people in the London Bridge attack in 2019, 11 months after being released from an eight-year sentence for terrorist offenses.
But he added that the Parole Board would be “ultra-cautious” in the wake of the Khan case, in which the killer managed to convince many people, including his prison chaplain and probation officer, that he had reformed.
Mr Hall told Times Radio: âThis (mistakes) will happen, and sometimes people will be released for absolutely correct reasons, but something will happen to them once they are released.
âUsman Khan was out for a year, but there will be cases of people who will be released and maybe five years later they will do something. I think it would be hard to blame the Parole Board for that.
âThe Usman Khan case sent shockwaves through the system. This meant that the Parole Board had become very aware of the risk of the wool being pulled over the eyes of the authorities. They will be extra careful in cases involving serious offenders. “
Emergency laws to block the automatic early release of terrorists were passed in February last year after two attacks in three months were carried out by extremists who had been released from prison.
Terrorist offenders must now serve two-thirds of their sentence before being eligible for release – rather than the previous halfway point – and must first be reviewed by the Parole Board.
Mr Hall said there is a well-established system for identifying, catching and convicting terrorists, but “what’s really difficult is this step of letting go.”
He added: “There is a real public interest in allowing the release of terrorists and indeed not having to deal with them once they are no longer dangerous due to the enormous financial and opportunity costs if the MI5 and if the police have to constantly monitor people – whether it’s keeping them in jail or following them around when they’ve been released – then they’re wasting the opportunity and bandwidth to detect new and emerging threats.
Some of the cases examined include that of Nazam Hussain, who planned attacks alongside the London Bridge terrorist Khan, and Jack Coulson – who made a homemade bomb in his room filled with Nazi memorabilia and downloaded a handbook on terrorism. The two could have their freedom offers determined in February.
Terrorist chief Rangzieb Ahmed – the first person to be sentenced in the UK for leading terrorism after leading a three-man Al Qaeda cell that was preparing to commit a mass murder – should see his case tried in March.
That same month, a decision could be made on the release of Jawad Akbar, one of the five terrorists who plotted to bomb Bluewater Shopping Center in Kent and Ministry of Sound nightclub in London in 2004.
Islamist extremist Abdalraouf Abdallah, who was visited in prison by Manchester Arena suicide bomber Salman Abedi but denied any involvement in the attack, has been recalled to prison for violating permit conditions earlier this year. He is likely to be reconsidered for release in the first half of 2022, as is Aras Hamid who attempted to leave the UK to join fighters for the so-called Islamic State.
Since the introduction of the Terrorist Offenders (Restricted Early Release) Act 2020, 117 cases have been referred to the Parole Board. So far, 11 have been released and 14 have been refused release.
Terrorism cases often take longer to be investigated due to their “complexity” and “go through careful and thorough processes” to ensure that all necessary evidence is available for hearings, the Commission said. conditional.
Security intelligence is a “key component” of many terrorist parole reviews and decision-making committees – made up of members including former and serving judges, police chiefs, prison directors, of prosecutors, psychologists and psychiatrists – require level security clearance “so that they can hear sensitive evidence.
Terrorism cases represent a âtinyâ proportion of the Commission’s caseload – equivalent to less than 100 of the approximately 16,000 cases handled each year.
But, due to the “critical public protection nature” of the cases, the council is increasing the number of specialists able to handle them and hopes to have around 70 panel members by the start of next year.
A spokesperson for the Parole Board said, âProtecting the public is always our top priority. Any convicted terrorist offender released into the community will be subject to some of the strictest licensing conditions available, including restrictions on where they can go, who they can associate with, restrictions on the use of ‘Internet, electronics, travel and work.
“They will also be subject to closer scrutiny under the Multi-Agency Public Protection Agreements (Mappa).”