A suspected extremist with links to ISIS was removed from a plane leaving Kabul, foiling his attempt to return to the UK after being stripped of his rights to live there.
The Afghan man, identified only as D9, had been living in the UK since 2001 but returned to Afghanistan for Covid-19-related reasons in 2019, only to be barred from returning on national security grounds.
Undeterred, the man tried to travel back to the UK in March and boarded a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul for the first leg of his journey. But the British government intervened and he was taken off the aircraft in Kabul because of the security risk he posed, court papers say.
D9 is now suing Home Secretary Priti Patel so he can leave Afghanistan where he believes his life is at risk because authorities may conclude that he is an extremist.
His legal action was launched before the Taliban takeover of the country and lawyers for D9 say that he was at risk under both the new and old regimes. He has not been in touch with his legal team since mid-August when the Taliban took over Kabul.
A political analyst told the court that Afghan intelligence services’ files containing information about D9 may have fallen into the hands of the Taliban after its forces took Kabul.
“If those files contain information and … shows that he is connected to Islamic State in any way, he would be at real risk given the enmity between the Taliban and Islamic State,” a High Court ruling said on Monday.
“At least one Islamic State commander has been executed and there are media reports of a crackdown on supporters of Islamic State more generally.”
D9 is relying on a judge’s ruling in February that the British government did not have the right to end the residency rights of another migrant in a separate case.
The man – named C1 – was in 2017 given indefinite leave to remain but travelled to Iran the following year and his residency rights were revoked. He came back to the UK in a small boat from the northern French coastline but was detained on arrival.
C1 argued successfully that the UK’s Home Office could not revoke his rights and his case is being relied on by D9.
Lawyers for D9 said his failure to contact them was consistent with “detention, or worse, by the Taliban authorities” and urged a speedy conclusion to the case.
But Mr Justice Linden on Monday ruled that any decision on D9 would have to wait for an appeal by the British government on the C1 case.
“I am not persuaded that there is a sufficient degree of risk in his [D9’s] case,” he said.