This past week, a man by the name of Mohammed Emwazi was identified in connection with IS and is the man involved with the video-recorded beheadings of Western hostages. Emwazi, also known as “Jihadi John,” is a Kuwaiti-born UK citizen and was residing in London prior to fleeing the country.
The British intelligence agency M15 is said to have known and suspected Emwazi as a potential threat; however, Emwazi was allowed to flee to Syria. Now UK intelligence agencies are falling under heavy scrutiny, being questioned on whether or not the anti-terrorism strategies and tactics are flawed.
Many believe that the UK counter-terrorism laws are too lenient, which is why Jihadi John was allowed to flee the country with such ease. Yvette Cooper, the Shadow Home secretary, is a firm believer of this theory and has called for review on some of the government’s decisions.
Former head of M16, Sir John Sawer, recently interviewed with BBC Radio 4 and defended the security services, insisting that they are doing a professional job with what resources are available to them:
“There are probably several thousand of these individuals of concern and the numbers are rising as more people go to Syria and Iraq… And no-one is talking about rounding up all these people or keeping 100% coverage, there’s just not the resources to do that and it would be contrary to our principles of human rights to do that, so you have to find a balance.”
Government representatives are also defending the work of security agencies. David Anderson, the government’s independent reviewer of terror legislation, feels that if more people were to know just how many cases these security agencies were reviewing, there would indeed be more sympathy for these agencies.