TORIES WERE accused of “giving in to terrorists” and risking radicalising more young people by seeking a ban on extremist preachers from university campuses in a coalition row over how to respond to “Islamic State”.
New laws place a duty on institutions to prevent students being drawn into terrorism but the governing parties are split over how it should be implemented in official guidance to educational leaders.
Attention has been focused on efforts to prevent young people being lured into joining terror groups by the unmasking of the “Islamic State” (IS) executioner known as “Jihadi John” as British computer graduate Mohammed Emwazi.
Labour demanded a watchdog investigation into whether a relaxation of the “control order” system for keeping suspects under surveillance had allowed Emwazi and others to slip through the net.
But politicians on all sides continued to defend the work of the intelligence services against suggestions that resentment of MI5’s treatment of Emwazi could have made him a radical after emails emerged in which he said he feared he was a “dead man walking”.
Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps confirmed there was a “difference of opinion” over the guidance to be issued to universities. But Lib Dem Energy Secretary Ed Davey said to crack down on free speech was to give in to terrorists.
Kuwait-born Londoner Emwazi had been pinpointed as a potential terrorist by the British authorities but was nonetheless able to travel to Syria in 2013 and join a group responsible for the murder of several Western hostages.
Former independent reviewer of government anti-terror laws Lord Carlile said there was a “realistic prospect Emwazi might have been prevented from joining up with IS had restrictions on suspects not been relaxed.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper claimed the hands of the security services were tied for nearly five years by Mrs May’s “wrong” decision to scrap powers to move terror suspects away from their networks.
Scotland Yard’s senior counter-terrorism officer Helen Ball said relocation powers are a valuable tool to move people away from networks that might be fuelling and encouraging extremism.
Earlier, it was reported that Emwazi feared he was a “dead man walking” after run-ins with security services before fleeing to Syria to begin his reign of terror, email exchanges with a journalist have claimed.
Emwazi said he considered suicide in 2010. In an email exchange with the Mail on Sunday (MoS) at the time, Emwazi described how he became suspicious he was being investigated.
He told the MoS’s security editor Richard Verkaik he felt harassed by security services, in a series of emails in 2010.
Meanwhile, images three teenage girls thought to have travelled to Syria to join IS have emerged. Scotland Yard said officers believe Shamima Begum and Amira Abase, both 15 and Kadiza Sultana, 16, crossed the border after flying to Istanbul on February 17.
CCTV pictures appear to show three girls entering a bus station in Istanbul on the same evening and leaving a part of the station in the early hours of the next morning.
British Armed Forces in Cyprus have also been praised for their work in fighting “Islamic State” extremists during a visit by the Defence Secretary. Michael Fallon told the 400 personnel at RAF Akrotiri how he was “proud” of their role in helping tackle IS.