Kurdish asylum seeker who MI5 deemed to be an ISIS supporter wins right to stay in Britain

Judges ruled the 30-year-old is not a security risk despite the spy agency's assessment

Passport control at an airport in the UK. PA
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An asylum seeker who UK spies believe to be an ISIS supporter has won the right to remain in Britain after judges ruled he is not a threat to national security.

The 30-year-old Iranian Kurd, who can’t be named for legal reasons, first arrived in Britain on the back of a lorry in 2016 and was granted refugee status.

In 2020, he travelled to see family in Iraqi Kurdistan. The government claims he then re-entered Iran resulting in his refugee status being revoked and being unable to fly back to the UK.

The man then managed to get back into the UK on a small boat from France in March 2021 and claimed asylum for a second time, which was refused by then home secretary Priti Patel, who argued he was a risk to national security.

Details of the man’s case have emerged when his appeal to stay in the UK was heard by a panel of judges at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission.

The UK’s internal security agency, MI5, made a National Security Assessment of the man, known as D8, in March 2022, court documents show.

“We assess that D8 holds an Islamist extremist mindset and is supportive of ISIS,” said the spies, referring to an alternative name for ISIS adding they believe he is “a threat to national security”.

The reasons MI5 gave for their assessment of the man as being a supporter of the violent Islamist extremists remain secret as part of closed evidence.

The decision to revoke his asylum status was made based on the UN’s Refugee Convention which allows this on the grounds there were “serious reasons for considering that he was guilty of acts contrary to the purposes and principles” of the UN.

But the man himself denies he is a supporter of ISIS and court documents state it “is common knowledge that Kurds, generally speaking, despise” the group.

The man is a supporter of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan “which would be inconsistent with an extremist or pro-ISIS mindset”.

Two cousins of the man gave evidence on his behalf and said they “deny that he holds extremist views”.

The judge also said it was apparent that the man “suffers from mental health difficulties and he appears to be tormented by internal demons”.

They also ruled that it is a “fact” that he was in Iran but the Home Secretary has been unable to prove he was there openly and as such did “not voluntarily reavail himself of the protection” of that country.

The Commission concluded that “it has not been demonstrated, applying the legal analysis we have set forth at length in this judgment, that D8 is a danger to national security”.

The man was granted asylum in the UK on the basis that he has a “well-founded fear of persecution in Iran”.

“The Government’s priority remains maintaining the safety and security of the UK. It would be inappropriate to comment on ongoing legal proceedings,” a Home Office representative said:

Updated: November 08, 2023, 3:03 PM