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Police launch manhunt for 'terror suspect' who went missing on Boxing Day… while under close surveillanceCounter terrorism detectives today appealed to the public for help in tracing Ibrahim MagagHe is believed to have absconded from a terror control order known as a Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures noticeThe 28-year-old was last seen in Camden, North LondonPolice have urged anyone who sees Magag to ring 999 immediately
02:06 GMT, 1 January 2013
Missing: Terror suspect Ibrahim Magag who was under close police surveillance has gone missing, it emerged this evening
Police last night launched a nationwide manhunt after an Al Qaeda-linked terror suspect went on the run.
Somali-born Ibrahim Magag, 28, was being held under security measures because of the threat he poses to the public.
He has not been seen since Boxing Day.
Counter-terrorism detectives made the unusual decision to appeal for help to trace the extremist after he went missing.
Home Secretary Theresa May had earlier asked the High Court to lift a ban on identifying him over fears he may try to meet other terror suspects or flee the country.
The police appeal came as a second terror suspect and former associate of Magag appeared in court accused of breaching a similar order.
Both men were being held under Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (T-Pim) notices, which were introduced in January 2012. Magag’s disappearance is a blow to the Government’s T-Pim programme, which critics have warned is a ‘watered down’ version of the previous control order regime.
Magag is thought to be a member of a UK-based network that supports the Al-Shabaab terrorist group which controls much of Somalia and is affiliated to Al Qaeda.
Police were alerted on Boxing Day that he had gone missing after he failed to return to his overnight accommodation. He was last seen in Camden, North London, wearing a khaki robe, navy Converse plimsolls and a black Berghaus anorak.’
Gone: The last sighting of Ibrahim Magag was in the Camden area of north London on Boxing Day
Magag had been forced to live in the
West of England under a control order imposed in October 2009. When
T-Pims were introduced last year he returned to London because the law
no longer allowed ministers to relocate him.
This was despite an earlier High Court
ruling that it was ‘too dangerous’ to allow him to return to London
‘even for a short period’.
The judge was told moving him from
London would disrupt his extremist activities and stop him planning or
carrying out terrorism.
HOW CURFEW WAS WEAKENED
Ibrahim Magag is the first terrorist suspect to abscond while under a new monitoring regime called Terrorism Prevention Investigation Measures.
These ‘T-Pims’ were introduced a year ago to replace the previous regime of control orders at the insistence of the Lib Dems after a major Coalition row.
Opponents of T-Pims say their introduction has weakened public protection.
The shift to T-Pims cut the number of hours a terror suspect could be forced to obey a home curfew from 16 hours a day to ten.
It also meant suspects could no longer be forced to change address and would be allowed restricted use of mobile phones and the internet.
The changes mean the police and security services must wrestle with terror suspects spending an extra six hours a day on the streets.
As a result of the new burden, ministers promised an extra 30million to spend on investigation and surveillance.
Unlike their predecessors, T-Pims must lapse after two years unless there is new evidence of continued terrorist activity.
There are now ten terror suspects under T-Pims, including Magag. In July it emerged that one suspected terrorist on a T-Pim was found five times near the Olympic Games venue.
He had been jailed after 15 breaches of his control order, including attempts to buy a computer and visiting an internet caf.
The former associate of Magag, known
only as ‘CC’, received terrorist training in Somalia and fought
alongside rebel soldiers. ‘CC’ also helped procure weapons for
terrorists and planned attacks in Somalia and overseas. He appeared amid
high security at Westminster Magistrates’ Court yesterday accused of
six breaches of his T-Pim.
Magag travelled to Britain as a
refugee aged 12. His wife continues to live in a London council flat.
High Court documents detail how Magag, a married former train conductor
and father of five, is closely linked to the Al-Shabaab group.
He was arrested in 2007 after
returning from an Al-Shabaab terrorist training camp he attended with
Bilal Berjawi, a close friend.
Magag was detained in Nairobi and
found to be carrying three new mobile phones and over 3,000 cash. While
being held he tried to destroy phone numbers by eating a piece of
The following year, police in London
stopped Magag and found he was carrying 1,000 in cash. Detectives
believe the money was for terrorist associates.
He was also accused of sending
associates to Somalia to join terrorist fighters by providing money,
false passports and other documents.
Berjawi, 27, was killed in a US drone strike last which hit his car near Mogadishu.
He had joined Islamic fighters after being stripped of his British citizenship 12 months earlier and deported.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said
Magag does not represent a ‘direct threat’ to the public. However, he
warned members of the public not to approach Magag.
David Anderson, the independent reviewer of terror legislation, said no security measure is ‘foolproof’.
He said experts believe there may be
50 British fighters in Somalia, adding: ‘Worst case, there could now be
one more – an influential one.’
Speaking about T-Pims, he said: ‘The only sure way to prevent absconding is to lock people in a high-security prison.’
Security Minister James Brokenshire
said: ‘The Home Secretary today applied to the High Court for an order
protecting anonymity to be lifted in order to assist with their
investigation. We do not believe [Magag’s] disappearance is linked to
any terrorism planning in the UK.