London police have been criticised after it was revealed they wrote to ‘New Jihadi John’ Abu Rumaysah politely asking him to surrender his passport weeks after he had already fled to Syria.
It formed part of a series of blunders by police while monitoring Mr Rumaysah, formerly known as Siddhartha Dhar, a convert from Hinduism who had already declared his intention to join Islamic State.
Officers had failed to confiscate his travel documents before he was bailed in 2014 on terror offences, allowing him to escape the country and travel to join Islamic State. He was already in Syria when police finally sent him a polite letter asking why he had not surrendered his passport.
London’s Metropolitan Police are also facing questions as to why he was not categorised as a flight risk despite his known support for Islamic State and previous membership of banned extremist group Al Muhajiroon.
Abu Rumaysah is now believed to be the masked British man in the latest Islamic State execution video, although his family and lawyer have expressed their doubts.
He is considered the replacement for Mohammed Emwazi, nicknamed Jihadi John, who appeared in numerous Islamic State execution videos murdering hostages.
The Times also reports that Abu Rumaysah was questioned by police for 24 hours following his arrest in 2014, but searches of his home in Walthamstow failed to uncover his passport. He was instead bailed and told to find his passport and hand it in.
Instead, he fled to Paris even though he was likely on a terror watch list, raising further questions as to why border officials did not catch him.
A few weeks later, he gloated on social media about his easy escape, posting a picture of himself holding his new-born baby in one arm and an assault rifle in the other, writing: “My Lord made a mockery of British intelligence and surveillance. Make hijrah [flight] Muslims. Place your trust in Allah.”
David Anderson QC, the British government’s reviewer of anti-terror legislation, told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One: “There are hundreds of people who have managed to get out of this country, people who were already known to the security service, and ended up in Syria.
“I stress that I can’t confirm that this is Siddhartha Dhar or not, but if we assume for a moment that it is, what is unusual about this case is that he managed to make that journey despite being subject to the criminal justice process, despite having been arrested and placed under police bail.”