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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Returning British ISIS fighters to face 10 years in jail

Travelling to a designated terror zone without reason will become an offence under new rules

Alexanda Amon Kotey, left, and El Shafee Elsheikh, who were allegedly among four British jihadis who made up a brutal ISIL cell dubbed "The Beatles"
Alexanda Amon Kotey, left, and El Shafee Elsheikh, who were allegedly among four British jihadis who made up a brutal ISIL cell dubbed "The Beatles"

British nationals travelling to countries such as Syria and Iraq could face 10 years in jail upon return to the UK, according to a new law to deal with foreign fighters announced on Thursday.

Britain’s Home Office will make it an offence to travel to designated countries where terror groups like ISIS are prevalent without a “reasonable excuse”.

The measures, which will be introduced in the new Counter Terror Bill, are being brought in to address the inability to bring criminal charges brought against British fighters believed to have fought with ISIS under the current set of rules.

It is thought that around 400 British ISIS fighters have already returned to the UK but only 40 them have been prosecuted because of lack of evidence to bring criminal charges.

Under the new rules it will no longer be necessary to establish that a suspect has engaged in terrorist activity prior to the arrival to the UK. All individuals who travelled to a designated terror zone without a good motive will face prosecution.

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Read more:

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“Those who travel abroad to fight in terrorist conflicts pose a threat to us all and need to be stopped. This offence will help make our streets a safer place,” said Sajid Javid, Britain’s home secretary.

“The proposed law has the full support of the security services and our law enforcement partners.”

Australia brought in a similar law in 2015, which banned travel to “declared areas”.

The British proposals, which were set out in an amendment to the Counter Terrorism and Border Security Bill, have been criticised by human rights groups, who argue that investigative journalism, family relationships and charity work in the designated areas will suffer as a result.