A person on a no-fly list from Afghanistan was reported to have reached British soil in an overnight evacuation operation.
The individual, who is not being identified by the government, flew into Birmingham on a British military plane in a potential security breach.
However, the unidentified man was later set free as he was not deemed as a ‘person of interest’ after investigation.
In a statement, a Home Office spokesperson informed, “An individual was flagged to the Home Office as part of the rigorous checks process, involving the police, security services and others. However, upon further investigation, they are not a person of interest to the security agencies or law enforcement.”
The case was brought to the fore at a briefing for MPs by ministers and officials following which the opposition raised concerns about a possible security threat. Reportedly, at least five people on Britain’s “no-fly list” attempted to leave Afghanistan on British planes. While four of them were prevented from flying, one person made it through to Birmingham.
A senior Border Force official further informed that one other individual was also intercepted in Frankfurt and was successfully blocked from continuing his journey to the UK. His family, however, was allowed to continue.
Criticizing the government for diluting checks and a poor exit strategy, Labour’s shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said, “An organised exit strategy would have ensured the necessary checks were in place, so this kind of lapse couldn’t happen.”
As per the Ministry of Defense, UK has evacuated over 7,100 individuals from Afghanistan since August 13. These include British nationals, diplomatic staff, Afghans who worked for the UK government in frontline roles and hence eligible for relocation and the ones considered to be at risk under the Taliban regime.
A BBC report suggested that such accepted mistakes might happen while processing evacuees at the Kabul airport considering the speed and scale of the evacuation operation. British officials, however, have raised concerns over a possible spike in impersonations, forged documents and forged passports at the Kabul airport.
What is a no-fly list?
A no-fly watchlist is used to stop people from entering the country who are thought to be a security threat. An individual can be placed in the no-fly list due to previous serious criminal conduct as well as terrorism.
Once on this list, the individual is barred from boarding commercial aircraft or any aircraft till the time they feature on the watchlist.