LONDON — A man suspected in Britain of planning terrorism attacks escaped surveillance by calling for and jumping into a London taxi, British Home Secretary Theresa May was told.
The opposition Labour Party’s home affairs spokeswoman, Yvette Cooper, citing a Twitter posting from a taxi firm, told lawmakers that Ibrahim Magag picked up the ride less than half a mile (800 meters) from Euston station in London on Dec. 26.
She had called May to Parliament Tuesday to answer an emergency question about the suspect’s escape.
Cooper said the government had made it easier for Magag — who is suspected of attending terrorist training camps in Somalia — to escape by allowing him to come back to London from western England, where he had been made to live under a so-called control order restricting his movements.
May “has personally made it easier for people to abscond,” Cooper said in the House of Commons. “Other people previously relocated under control orders are also now back in London” under newer anti-terrorism measures.
“Could any one of them simply jump in a black cab and be off?” Cooper asked.
The government replaced control orders, which put restrictions on the movement of terrorist suspects who have not been charged by police, with so-called terrorism prevention and investigation measures in 2011.
These require suspects to stay overnight in their home for eight to 10 hours, down from 16 hours previously, and wear an electronic tag.
Magag is suspected of escaping after ripping off his tag. Cooper said allowing him to move back to London had been a mistake, because being in the West Country “he was made to live under a control order — harder to get help from his associates, harder to hide, harder to get forged papers.”
May said she “does not believe that Magag’s disappearance was linked to any current terrorism planning in the U.K.” She also defended the new terrorism prevention orders, saying control orders had not been foolproof.
“In six years of control orders, there were seven absconds and of those seven cases, six were never apprehended,” May told Cooper. “Magag’s abscond is serious and the authorities are doing everything they can to locate him.”
© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.