British authorities are concerned a trio of Islamist terrorism convictions could soon be reviewed, and could allow them to be released from jail before sentences expire.
The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) upheld all three convictions in April and August, and in October, a high court ruled the case brought by the national crime agency could proceed.
SIAC decided to consider a new bid by the three men on November 4, but is only conducting an “initial discussion” of the appeal without “making any decision about the nature of the appeal,” according to a press release.
Omar Khyam, who goes by the name of Omar Bakri Mohammed, is serving two life sentences in a high security jail in north Wales, while British citizens Shehzad Tanweer and Zahid Mubarek are also in prison.
Tanweer was arrested in 2005, a few weeks after the July 7 bombings in London that left 52 people dead. Among his group of conspirators was a notorious terrorist named Tanweer Hussain, and in 2006, a jury convicted him of 13 counts of attempted murder and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.
Soon after that trial, he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay and released in 2011.
British authorities revoked the citizenship of his parents in 2005. They then appealed against Tanweer’s guilty verdict to the Court of Appeal, where the ruling was upheld in 2012.
Two of the convicted terrorists have also been tried in military courts. On May 3, 2018, a British court found Tanweer guilty of seven charges relating to an attempt to carry out a suicide attack on a military parade ground in Manchester.
Khyam was arrested in 2005, shortly after the July 7 bombings in London, and sentenced to life in prison in 2007.
In October 2018, Khyam’s last remaining appeal against his conviction was dismissed.
Tamar Nazir, the lawyer for the group of Britons accused of involvement in the July 7 attacks, said in an interview with CNN last year that the terrorists were part of a wider Islamic militant movement and had no particular reason to carry out the attack.
It is unclear what might prompt SIAC to reconsider their cases, but counterterrorism Minister Ben Wallace said last week that he was concerned the government’s powers to detain those suspected of being involved in terrorism would soon lapse.
“It has a retrospective effect, which does give more of a power of detention than is necessary, and we want to focus on much more use of safeguards in the future and try to ensure that there are powers to stop people going into, joining, or planning terrorist acts and interventions, once they have passed the age of 18,” he said.