Released terror trio to be given second chance after release

Two convicted terrorists who were released on licence under the Belmarsh scheme, are due to walk free after their release dates expire. Armed with indefinite licence conditions, they were both given automatic parole under…

Released terror trio to be given second chance after release

Two convicted terrorists who were released on licence under the Belmarsh scheme, are due to walk free after their release dates expire.

Armed with indefinite licence conditions, they were both given automatic parole under the terms of a 2009 decision by the home secretary in the wake of the 7/7 London bombings.

The Belmarsh decision not to pursue terrorism charges against Omar Khyam and El-Amin Hamad – also known as Abu Talha al-Almani and Ibrahim Hassan – prompted allegations of a miscarriage of justice.

Under the terms of the 2009 decision, they were transferred from Belmarsh prison to Rammside open prison in Kent, and then to a special unit in Wandsworth, south London. The Home Office has asked the home secretary to allow them to leave both Belmarsh and Wandsworth.

In a court document put on file before the high court, the home secretary, Sajid Javid, said he was unable to take such action without “thorough, detailed checks that ensure continued public safety and protect the security of the public against terrorism”.

He said that he had concluded that Khyam and Hamad were both “dangerous and would be at high risk to public safety if they were released on extended licence terms”. He added that he had made the decision in the “national interest” and was making no representations on Khyam and Hamad’s behalf.

However, the high court has been told that the two men, who are understood to be currently being held in other high-security jails across the country, may walk free in the next few months.

Khyam was jailed for 17 years in 2010 after being convicted of planning a 2009 murder plot for Al-Qaida in Yemen. A senior judge said Khyam was engaged in a “grave and catastrophic risk” of becoming a radical Islamist militant after making repeated calls for jihad in Britain. He was also convicted of falsely claiming to be the son of Sheikh Yassir al-Qaradawi, the head of the Islamic charity the Al-Tawhid and Jihad Group.

Hamad, who is from Hounslow, west London, was imprisoned for eight years in 2011 after being convicted of preparing for terrorism, attempting to join Isis, possessing a document likely to be useful to a terrorist and making false representations.

A series of high-profile barrister representation have been made on Khyam and Hamad’s behalf, including by the former Met deputy assistant commissioner and Northern Ireland terrorism specialist Andy Hayman QC.

Khyam’s lawyers argue that the judgment in 2009 was made well before he and Hamad were convicted and is currently frozen in time.

The court of appeal last year dismissed claims that the decision to release the two men was procedurally flawed.

In his judgement, Mr Justice Arnold said: “There must be no question that there are any grounds to challenge the legitimacy of the decision.

“It had to have been a very high threshold of proof indeed that any person convicted for a terrorism offence at any point, at any time, in the event that this decision were based on an arguable decision which was based upon a substantial judgment, would also be at the risk of the possibility of being released.

“Given the circumstances of these trials, I do not accept that any such person could have raised a significant enough question.”

A spokeswoman for the government said: “Both men are known to have been advocating violence or terrorism, particularly in relation to radicalisation, bringing crime and terror together. In this instance, the higher risk to the public arising from these pair’s acts was far greater than that of other individuals in recent years.

“We are urgently considering whether we have the power to extend their licence and the powers they currently have.”

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