The Islamic State militants have been trying to take control of the border crossing where intelligence sources believe they are trying to get into Western Europe through Turkey by disguising themselves as refugees. Lax border controls have seen thousands fleeing the Syrian civil war flood in – and the terrorists can freely mingle with them, raising fears those who have left Britain to support the jihadis could end up back here .
Former foreign minister and ex-chair of the Security and Intelligence Committee Kim Howells said the information “sounds pretty accurate to me”.
“We are already fully stretched with the people who are here already, let alone having to cope with a large number of new refugees here as agents for terrorist organisations,” he told WalesOnline. “There are already some who are here already. We have seen the efforts of the Home Office trying to remove those who are either terrorists, terrorist apologists, fund-raisers for terrorists or people prepared to preach on their behalf.” Britain has “got to be able to identify these people,” he warned.
“The problem is Turkey – it is a serious problem. They are playing a strange game. They allow Isis fighters to move into Syria but they won’t let the Kurdish do the same to defend Kurdish cities because they consider the Kurdish to be a greater threat than Isis. “They think Isis the lesser of two enemies despite the fact Isis are willing to kill people in France, Germany and Britain .”
Turkey’s border was “extremely leaky,” he added. “Unless the Turks crack down we are in big trouble.”
Isis flags have been flying from buildings in Kobani.
Former Welsh Guard Simon Weston – who stood to become South Wales Police commissioner in 2012 – warned “we are all under threat from Isis”.
“We are very much in the grip of what I believe is the Third World War,” the Falklands veteran said. “It may be the beginning but we are in it.” Mr Weston said he was worried Isis “are probably already here”. And if they do not have “equipment and explosives” already then he cautioned that getting them “is not all that difficult”.
British-born terrorists who left to join Isis “should never be allowed back,” he added. “They might as well stay there fighting to the death,” Mr Weston said. “I don’t care if they have family in Bristol or Cardiff. Fine. They have made their choice if they want to take lives because of a religious desire.”
Mr Howells’ agreed that “this may be the conflict, like those two previous great wars, that define global conflict”. He said: “One of the things that has upset a great many countries over the past 20 years has been the way in which people who are regarded as terrorist leaders have been allowed to live in Britain.
“It has affected some universities. There are people accused of human rights abuses in Rwanda and Nigeria who have completed university degrees subsequent to being granted refugee status in this country. “There have been Islamic charities in the UK that have been fronts for groups like Isis and Al-Qaeda. No-one should be surprised this is a tactic they would use.”
Monmouth MP David Davies dubbed the so-called Trojan Horse plot of smuggling militants posing as refugees “a very plausible piece of intelligence”. He said: “We need to redouble our efforts to prevent Isis fighters from getting to the UK and to prevent illegal immigration.
“We must ensure anyone coming in undergoes stringent security checks. There has been too much talk of human rights of asylum seekers and refugees. “We need to concern ourselves with the human rights of British citizens. “America and the UK, and by implication Wales, will be at the top of any list of targets by Isis fighters.”
Mr Howells feared they will “find ways of getting here, in the back of trucks or whatever”. “They will claim asylum and say they are refugees,” he said. “But it’s much more difficult for countries on the European mainland because it is much more difficult to defend their borders.”
Mr Weston took solace in that “once they blow themselves up they can’t do it again”. He added: “If 30 or 40 get here after a while they are going to run out of each other. “It will mean a lot of pain and suffering. They could go somewhere like the Millennium Stadium.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “The police, security services and Border Force are actively working to identify, detect and disrupt terrorist threats, including foreign fighters attempting to enter the UK.
“They use a wide range of powers including those which allow them to interview and detain individuals at the UK border suspected of being involved in terrorism. “In addition to full passport checks, individuals travelling into the UK are checked against watch lists to ensure public safety. The UK also uses the most advanced technology in Europe to ensure we collect passenger information, which helps us to identify individuals who pose a threat before they fly.
“Under new powers in the Immigration Act, the Home Secretary can now deprive citizenship from a naturalised British citizen if they have acted in a manner seriously prejudicial to the vital interests of the UK. She also has powers to ban people from entering the UK if they are not conducive to the public good.”