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British Police Failed To Seize Passport Of ISIS Video Suspect, MPs Told

The UK government is under pressure to explain how a Briton suspected of appearing in latest ISIS video was able to flee to Syria while on police bail for terror offences.

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Ministers and police are facing questions over a terror suspect who was able to flee to Syria despite having been arrested six times, and who is now suspected of appearing in the latest ISIS video threatening the UK.

ISIS released its latest video on Sunday, apparently showing the killing of five people accused of being spies, and featuring a lengthy speech from a man speaking with a British accent.

Home secretary Theresa May faced a string of questions from her Labour opposite number, Andy Burnham, in the House of Commons on Tuesday about exactly what the government knew about Siddhartha Dhar, also known as Abu Rumaysah, who is suspected be man in the new ISIS video.

Responding to a statement from May, Burnham pointed out that Dhar was out on bail having already been arrested six times when he absconded. He also revealed that police had failed to seize his passport and instead asked him to give it up willingly while he was on bail.

Burnham said he had seen a letter from the police to Dhar setting out his bail conditions, which asked him to surrender his travel documents by 3 October. A month later another letter arrived reminding him he still hadn't surrendered his passport – by which point he was already in Syria.

The second letter asked: "Are there any changes to your circumstances that the police need to know about?" It then said: "Can you please contact the police on the number listed above as a matter of urgency."

"Does this in any way sound adequate? It is clear he had left this country long before this letter was sent," Burnham asked the home secretary.

He said: "People will have been sickened to have seen images from the latest Daesh [ISIS] video on their television screens last night and what makes it even more disturbing is the British voices in the video and reports that one of [them] is a UK national who absconded to Syria while on police bail for terrorism-related offences. Something clearly has seriously has gone wrong.

"People will rightly want to know how on earth this could possibly could have happened and reassurances that steps are being taken to ensure it doesn't happen again."

Earlier, May told the house that the government was taking several steps to prevent ISIS radicalising Britons.

She said the government was working to remove more than 1,000 online videos which encourage terrorism and joining European watch list schemes to check terror suspects' identities at border controls.

"Time and again we have seen people of all faiths and backgrounds join together and stand for democracy and freedom. Britain will not be intimidated by Daesh and together we will defeat them," she said.

However, in reply to a question from Labour's Yvette Cooper, May admitted that no figures were available for the number of terror suspects who had absconded while on police bail.

Prime minister David Cameron will face similar questions next Tuesday when he appears before parliament's liaison committee.


BBC News quoted an "official source" who said that Dhar was the focus of an investigation into the video, although there has been no official confirmation that it was him in the footage. Downing Street said that the video was still being investigated and the government has not confirmed the man's identity.

Dhar was an active member of the banned Islamic group al-Muhajiroun and made several TV appearances defending ISIS. He was arrested alongside radical preacher Anjem Choudary and seven others in September 2014 on suspicion of being a member of a proscribed terrorist group and encouraging terrorism.

But Dhar skipped bail and then travelled to Syria with his wife and four children. He managed to leave via a coach to Paris.

Choudary and one other man, Mohammed Mizanur Rahman, deny the charges and are set to face trial on 11 January.

A former close associate of Dhar who attended rallies with him, and who asked not be named for fear of retribution, told BuzzFeed News that in person he was very different to his firebrand public persona.

"I would say that he was very different on camera than when he was off," the associate said. "When he was off camera he was more soft-spoken, really only spoke about things to do with the deen [the Islamic way of life] rather than all the things you've seen him talk about, like caliphates and taking over the UK.

"I don't know if I expected him to have actually gone to Syria. Obviously he supported ISIS in the same way that other people in the group did.

"I will say he was more soft-spoken than other people, who were more... hot-headed."

It emerged that Emwazi had a comfortable upbringing in west London and attended university before joining ISIS.

Emwazi was killed in a US drone strike in August 2015.

Patrick Smith is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Patrick Smith at

Hussein Kesvani is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

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