MPs say they are shocked to discover that Anas al-Liby, the notorious al-Qaida commander snatched by US special forces in Libya, was once granted political asylum in the UK.
He may be one of the most dangerous terrorists in the world, but that didn’t stop him receiving a warm welcome from the authorities when he turned up here in 1995. But why are our politicians so surprised? Al-Liby wasn’t the first violent Islamist to abuse our hospitality – and he certainly won’t be the last.
From the hook-handed hater Abu Hamza, to the Tottenham Ayotallah Omar Bakri Muhammed, by way of fanatical jihadist Abu Qatada, extremists from around the globe – and with no connection to Britain – have flocked here to live on benefits and claim free housing, health care and education for their families.
When you meet impoverished Second World War veterans shivering over a single bar electric fire, it is tempting to wonder why they ever bothered to fight the Nazis in the first place, when our modern governments are so keen to appease another type of fascist.
Al-Liby lived in Manchester, plotting the bombing attacks on US embassies in East Africa that killed more than 200 people. When his flat was eventually raided he had scarpered, leaving behind a terror training guide that has become known as the ‘Manchester Manual’.
Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, is now demanding answers from the Home Secretary as to why al-Liby was allowed to claim asylum. Is this the same Labour party that threw open Britain’s doors to untrammelled immigration? Yes, indeed it is. The Left wanted to rub the public’s noses in diversity. Instead, they helped introduce a terrorist canker in the heart of our society that is proving difficult, if not impossible, to cut out.
The security services also have much to answer for, because they adopted a relaxed attitude to the terrorists flocking here, based on the assumption that the jihadists would not foul their own nest by attacking British targets.
This theory was blown apart – quite literally – in 2005 when four home-grown Islamist terrorists, inspired by the hate preachers we had allowed into our country, murdered 52 people on the London transport system.
Now at least attitudes have changed. Andrew Parker, director-general of MI5, warned this week of the danger posed by British nationals heading out to Syria to fight for jihadist groups. The fear is they will one day return to use their new-found terror skills on the population at home. He also said the leak of secret GCHQ documents, published by the Guardian newspaper, had caused enormous damage to the fight against terror.
We live in terrifyingly dangerous times, but we are beset by infuriatingly complacent governments that are unable or unwilling to control our borders properly, or to kick out swiftly foreign jihadists who try to do us harm.
Tony Blair famously set out his priorities in office in 1997 as “Education, Education, Education”. In terms of hard cash he was as good as his word, and spending on education almost doubled during Labour’s term in office to £64bn.
But what do we have to show for it? Not a lot, as it has turned out. This week it was revealed that England languishes 21st and 22nd in literacy and numeracy out of 24 countries surveyed. The OECD research also discovered that England was the only country where the older generation have a better grasp of the basics than the young.
Clearly, something has gone badly wrong with our education system, and throwing more money at the problem hasn’t fixed it. All the more reason to back Michael Gove in his courageous attempts at radical reform.