A TERROR suspect who disguised himself as a woman wearing a burka to escape surveillance is believed to have been cleared of tampering with his electronic monitoring tag on the day he went missing.
Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed, who was last seen fleeing a mosque while wearing a body cloak covering his head, is understood to have received training and fought overseas for al-Shabaab, the Somalia-based cell of the militant Islamist group al-Qaeda.
On the day of his disappearance, he was cleared at the Old Bailey of tampering with his tag, it is understood. David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, revealed that criminal charges had been dropped on Friday against a number of Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (Tpim) subjects for allegedly tampering with security tags, but did not specify whether Mohamed was one of those involved.
The Crown Prosecution Service would not comment on individuals, but said the cases of three Tpim subjects had recently been discontinued. There were outstanding alleged offences against one of the three, known as CC, who is due to stand trial in April, it added. A spokeswoman said: “When we authorised charges in these cases, we did so after a review of the available evidence, including that of an expert who believed that the tags had been deliberately damaged by the individuals required to wear them under the Tpim regime.”
Home Secretary Theresa May has insisted that 27-year-old Mohamed does not pose “a direct threat” to members of the public, despite mounting concerns over his disappearance. He is the second person to breach a Tpim notice since they were introduced to replace control orders in 2012.
Mrs May told MPs: “The police and security service do not believe that this man poses a direct threat to the public in the UK. The reason he was put on a Tpim in the first place was to prevent his travel to support terrorism overseas.”
Mohamed entered a west London mosque on Friday in western-style clothes, but CCTV images showed him leaving with his face and body fully covered by a burka – the traditional Islamic garment for women.
In December, Tpim subject Ibrahim Magag ripped off his electronic tag and vanished in a black cab. Both Magag and Mohamed were members of a UK-based network for terrorism-related activity in Somalia, court documents have revealed.
“The police have urged anyone who sees Mohamed or knows of his whereabouts not to approach him, but to call 999 or to contact the anti-terrorist hotline,” Mrs May said.
“Their focus is to locate and arrest Mr Mohamed. They are doing everything in their power to apprehend him and the government will provide them with all the support they need.”
London mayor Boris Johnson has joined calls for tougher controls over terror suspects, saying it was clear that Tpims were not working as they should. He blamed “coalition politics” for watering down the previous control order system.