Marco Giannangeli and Jonathan Walker, Daily Express, November 18, 2023
A manhunt was under way last night after six suspected terrorists landed in Britain, having crossed the Channel in a small boat.
The foreign nationals all have links to Islamist groups and are believed to be backed by terror paymasters Iran.
They are thought to be on a mission to target the Government or public services.
The radical group arrived in the UK illegally from northern France weeks ago after travelling across Europe from Syria.
Security services are monitoring the movements of three of the fugitives, but the others – believed to be using fake identity documents – have disappeared. Sources say a high-level decision was made to keep the known suspects under surveillance in the hope it would lead to other terror cell members.
Anti-terror chiefs are also aware that attempts to remove them could lead to lengthy legal battles.
Their arrival brings to 25 the number of terrorist suspects who have used small boats to enter Britain this year alone.
Some have been living in hotels or have lodged asylum claims.
Last night MPs seized on the revelation to crank up pressure on the Government to do more to tackle small boats.
Shocked Tory Marco Longhi, who sits on the Commons home affairs committee, said: “This is yet another reason why firm action is needed.
“We already know the impact illegal migration has on housing, the NHS and local authority resources. This should provide a wake-up call about the threat to national security due to our vulnerable borders.
“It is terrifying to think we might not know the dangers posed by some of those already here.”
MI6 operatives stationed near Damascus had uncovered details of a plot being supported by Iran before Hamas terrorists carried out atrocities in Israel last month.
So the mission in the UK is not being linked to Britain supporting Israel’s invasion of Gaza.
“The information indicates that these people are terrorists planning to attack government buildings in England, Scotland and Wales,” revealed an intelligence source.
“Although they arrived without identification, we believe all are now in possession of false documents.
“They plan to commit an act which embarrasses the Government. This could mean damaging a building or even a close-proximity cyber attack, though we do not anticipate this is a mass-casualty event.”
The areas being monitored for the planned attack are the West Midlands in England, plus Scotland and Wales.
More than 52,000 illegal migrants entered the UK in the 12 months to June, of which 85 per cent arrived by crossing the Channel.
Though the vast majority of people arriving on small boats are either genuine asylum seekers or economic migrants, the ease with which they get into the country makes Britain a soft touch for terrorists.
Suella Braverman, then the Home Secretary, warned in June that the risk of terrorism in the UK “continues to evolve and is increasing”.
There have been fewer Russian troops in Syria since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, meaning that the influence of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has increased.
Around 70,000 armed members of its elite Quds Force are now in Syria.
The risk of terrorists posing as refugees to travel across Europe has led to 11 EU states taking the “exceptional and last resort measure” of reintroducing temporary border controls, according to a recent European Commission report.
Former local government minister Lia Nici said: “While we allow illegal migrants to walk freely around the UK with no true knowledge of who they really are or the real reasons for them coming here, we are opening ourselves up to risks.
“While we allow non-democratic courts to overrule democratically made laws, we will never be able to secure our borders. Increasing numbers of European countries are realising what this means for security. It is time the Home Office did too.”
Tory MP Natalie Elphicke said: “The small boats crisis is a risk to our national security. This underlines why we need to stop the boats and control our borders.”
MP Daniel Kawczynski added: “Attention has focused on the economic migrants coming to this country illegally but this shows that failure to secure our borders could also allow criminals and people who pose a danger to the public into the UK.”
Former cabinet minister Simon Clarke said: “As this news shows, this isn’t a matter just of immigration enforcement but of national security.
“For as long as we don’t know who is coming to the UK there is a threat which it is a fundamental responsibility of the Government to address.”
Alan Mendoza, of the Henry Jackson Society think-tank, said: “We have known for some time how difficult it has proved to monitor the identities of illegal migrants. And the more migrants who make that journey, the more the threat grows. The only solution is for the Government to act urgently, whether it is through the Rwanda route or another measure.”
Former counter-terror police chief Chris Phillips said that they have been warning for a long time that the UK’s borders are “porous”. He added: “The Rwanda scheme will not fix this by itself but, by deterring migrants, it will allow the authorities more scope to keep an eye on who is landing.”
Kim Rye, from Dungeness, Kent, has been filming small boat arrivals for about two years to create a public record of the events.
She fears there is a major threat of terrorists getting into the country, saying that groups of men are landing, then simply getting into waiting vehicles.
Ms Rye also claimed that security is now far more lax, adding: “Two years ago, people were arrested and always searched. But in one recent group of 30, none were searched.”
The Home Office was approached for comment.