Senior national coordinator for counterterrorism policing in the United Kingdom, Neil Basu, said that exclusion powers would be applied to about 200 of the 300 fighters in the war zone because “we operate on the principle that we don’t want you back”. The 200 are thought to be dual nationals who can be stripped of their citizenship or foreign citizens who previously resided here but did not have British nationality.
Basu, a deputy assistant commissioner at Scotland Yard, said that the remaining 100, who are sole UK citizens and cannot be made stateless, may try to come back but the authorities were waiting for them, according to "The Times". They can be charged with criminal offenses or given movement restrictions and made to go into counter-extremism programmes.
In an interview published by the Combating Terrorism Centre at West Point, he said: 'Like other countries, we operate on the principle that we don't want you back, and therefore we will deprive you of your British passport. And the Government has done that.
Basu said about half of the 850 who traveled from Britain to join ISISI had already returned and more than 100 were dead. Of the remaining 300, two thirds would be blocked from the UK, he said.
"And for those among those who end up coming back, we are absolutely waiting for them. That's the bottom line," he stressed.
His comments came a week after news of the capture of Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, the two remaining members of “the Beatles”, a British Isis cell that beheaded western hostages. They have been stripped of British citizenship, resulting in a diplomatic row between the UK and US over their fate. The cell’s leader was Mohammed Emwazi, known as Jihadi John, who was killed in a drone strike in 2016.
Basu said the large majority of those who have come back did so "very quickly and early on" and are "not where the bigger threat lies".
The Metropolitan Police officer identified the possible return of "committed recruits" as the greater danger but predicted most would rather "fight on" than come back.
He added: ”As far as those who are still overseas are concerned, we have been making it very clear that this will be a very hostile place to come back to, and I do not think most of these foreign fighters will want to come back.”
Predictions of a "large reverse flow" as the so-called "caliphate" disintegrated have not materialized, he said, adding: "Instead, we are seeing just the odd person come back."