According to Heathrow Airport officials, terror suspects are entering Britain in the run-up to the Olympic Games because necessary security checks aren’t being carried out. A senior border officer has revealed to journalists that inexperienced new recruits are repeatedly missing people on the Home Office watch list who should be referred to counter-terrorism officers when reaching passport controls.
Officials are supposed to immediately notify M15 or counter-terrorism police if they suspect a “SX traveller” is trying to enter the country. The official said he was aware that three terror suspects – who are registered on the Home Office suspect index system – were allowed to pass through passport checks by workers on his shifts since the beginning of the month. One of his colleagues even claims that five suspects were allowed to pass through in one day earlier in the month.
The senior border officer says that there are new staff faces at border checks at Heathrow Airport. He doesn’t know where they came from, how long they will be there or what their background is. The staff are people who have been forced into this position by their own department.
According to a UK Border Agency document recently passed to staff, new recruits were reassured that their lack of training would be considered if they did make a mistake. The paper says that the full circumstances will be considered carefully – including the extent of their training and experience – if they mess up. The fact that the agency recognises the lack of training for new recruits is embarrassing in itself.
A UK Border Agency official, talking on condition of anonymity, questioned how many other terror suspects could have been missed. Missing counter-terrorism hits is a huge problem, but new recruits aren’t getting enough time in training. It’s essential potential terrorists aren’t allowed to enter the country without being noted and that the information is passed on to security or police services. Once they pass through immigration checks, there’s no way of knowing where they may go, the official added.
It’s understood that counter-terrorism police are urgently seeking talks with senior UK Border Agency management about the missed terror suspects. Tory MP Mark Reckless, a home affairs select committee member, says that he knows Home Secretary Theresa May will be very concerned if the warning index checks are missed.
This comes just days after the biggest security company in the world – G4S – announced that it won’t be able to provide enough security personnel for the Olympic Games. This has forced the government to call in 3,500 troops to fill the gap. Last month, M15 head John Evans said the Games is an appealing target for enemies, as the nation will be at the centre of attention across the globe.
M15, M16 and GCHQ have also been diverted from other potential threats to Britain due to the Olympics. Because of this, the intelligence and security committee has warned of the UK’s vulnerability at such a critical period. The committee has determined potential sources of threat that include al-Qaeda and its affiliates planning an attack on the Olympics or its participants – particularly US or Israeli nationals. There’s also a possible threat from republican dissident terror groups.
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