British jihadis who go to Syria and Iraq to fight for Isil must be stopped and brought to justice in other countries before they can get back to the UK, Theresa May has told the G7 summit.
The Prime Minister wants G7 countries, including Britain, to share information and expertise with countries including Iraq so they can “prosecute any foreign fighters they capture”.
Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi is among those known to have travelled abroad, where he may have received training in bomb-making before he detonated a device that killed 22 people earlier this week.
Mrs May is desperate to prevent jihadis returning to the UK, and proposed a series of steps to G7 leaders as she led talks on counter-terrorism at the summit in Sicily today.
Mrs May proposed:
- Sharing the identities of foreign fighters who may pass through third countries on the way back to their countries of origin
- Sharing expertise on policing, border security and watch-lists with transit countries
- Providing training and resourcing to legal experts and police in Iraq and other countries to help them prosecute, extradite or deport foreign fighters
- Sharing data on foreign fighters, such as names and nationalities, so they can be spotted as they cross borders
- Encouraging countries to pass on evidence such as videos or documents to the British authorities to help prosecute them if they make it back to Britain
Mrs May gave the example of Aine Davis, a Londoner arrested in 2015 near Istanbul who was suspected of presiding over beheadings carried out by the Briton known as Jihadi John.
He was found guilty of being a senior member of a terrorist organisation and jailed for seven-and-a-half years by a Turkish court. His trial heard how he had been tracked by Turkish police and intelligence officials days after being smuggled out of Syria by Isil.
Under Mrs May’s proposals, other countries would follow Turkey’s example.
The Prime Minister said: “It is vital we do more to cooperate with our partners in the region to step up returns and prosecutions of foreign fighters.
“This means improving intelligence-sharing, evidence gathering and bolstering countries’ police and legal processes.”
Meanwhile, British police have resumed “working closely” with US authorities in the investigation into the Manchester bombing after a tense showdown between the allies over leaked intelligence – including photographs from the scene of the attack.
After Mrs May warned the row risked hampering relations with the UK, the US Secretary of State said that America took “full responsibility” for and “regrets” the leaking of information.
Rex Tillerson made the apology on a snap visit to London, where he met Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson in Downing Street.
Mr Tillerson said: “This special relationship that exists between our two countries will certainly withstand this particular unfortunate event.”
Counter-terror police investigating the suicide attack carried out fresh raids on Friday, as security services were warned of more attacks during Ramadan.
Islamic State called on its followers to rise up in an “all-out war” on “infidels” in the West during the Muslim holy month, which begins tomorrow.
Saturday marks the start of a 30-day period of fasting and reflection in the Islamic world, which has in recent years seen a large increase in terror attacks.
As detectives revealed the youngest man in custody over the Manchester attack is 18, early-hours searches were on Friday launched at a Manchester barbershop and a takeaway on Merseyside.
Officers who earlier raided terrorist Salman Abedi’s home discovered a working bomb factory with a huge stash of explosive chemicals and other components.