December 20, 2014
UK's Cameron unveils powers to strip suspected Islamist fighters of passports
Prime Minister David Cameron today announced plans to strip suspected Islamist militants of their passports temporarily, to combat the threat posed by radicalized Britons returning from Syria and Iraq.
An IS video released last month, purporting to show a man with a London accent man beheading a US journalist, led to concern that Britons fighting in the region could return and launch attacks on British soil.
"We have all been shocked and sickened by the barbarism we have witnessed in Iraq this summer," Cameron told parliament.
"There are two key areas where we need to strengthen our powers to fill specific gaps in our armory. These are around preventing suspects from traveling and dealing decisively with those already here who pose a risk."
Cameron said he would bring in new "specific and targeted legislation" to give the police powers to temporarily seize a suspect's passport at the border to give authorities time to investigate them. Currently only Britain's interior minister has the power to withdraw a passport.
He also said the government would consult on a discretionary power to prevent Britons from returning home if they have pledged allegiance to extremist causes. This would extend existing powers which can only be applied to foreign nationals, naturalized citizens and those with dual nationalities.
Asked by an opposition Labour lawmaker whether he was open to the idea of joining the United States in direct military action, Cameron said he would not "rule anything out".