Nearly 100 convicted terrorists are being considered for release from prison by the Probation Board, and more cases will be decided over the next few months.
Emergency laws passed in the wake of 2019’s London Bridge attack in February 2020 that blocked the automatic early release of imprisoned terrorists, mean that 92 active and ongoing terrorist cases may come before the Probation Board in the near future, depending on how long it takes to gather evidence.
Due to the “critical public protection nature” of the cases, the Probation Board is increasing the number of specialists who can handle them.
Terrorist cases often take longer to be considered for parole because they are more complex and the need to “go through careful and thorough processes” to ensure that all information is available, the parole board said.
Criminals will no longer be automatically released after serving half of their time and must now serve at least two-thirds of their sentence before being eligible for release. Cases must also be processed by the Parole Board before a decision is made on release.
Among the cases to be reviewed are the case of Nazam Hussain, who planned attacks along with London Bridge striker Usman Khan, and Jack Coulson, who produced a pipe bomb in his bedroom, which was filled with Nazi memorabilia – both could face the board in March.
Rangzieb Ahmed, a terror boss who became the first person in Britain to be convicted of leading terrorism after leading a three-man cell planning mass murder, could also have his case heard in March.
That same month, Jawad Akbar, who was part of a group planning to bomb the Bluewater mall in Kent and the Ministry Of Sound in London in 2004, could also hear if he was being released.
Abdalraouf Abdallah’s case may also be dealt with soon – he was visited in jail by Manchester Arena bomber Salman Abedi but has refused to be involved in the attack. He was recalled to prison earlier this year for violating his bail conditions.
Since the law came into force, 117 cases have been referred to the Probation Board. Eleven have so far been released, while 14 have been held behind bars.
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A significant portion of reviews come from intelligence provided by the security services, and the panels, made up of individuals such as former judges, senior officers and psychologists, require “top-level security clearance” in order for them to hear sensitive evidence.
However, due to the “critical public protection nature” of the cases, the board is increasing the number of specialists who can handle them and hopes to have around 70 panel members by the beginning of next year.
A spokesman for the Probation Board said: “Public protection is always our top priority. Any terrorist convicted offender released into the community will be subject to some of the strictest licensing conditions available, including restrictions on where they can go, who they can socializing, restrictions on Internet use, electronic devices, travel, and work.
“They will also be subject to further close monitoring as part of the Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (Mappa).”