Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday he would force airlines to share flight-lists with security services and give police the power to confiscate passports as he set out Britain's response to the rise of Islamic State.
Cameron told parliament the government would look at how it could restrict the movements of suspected terrorists in Britain and stop those who are British nationals returning to the UK.
"What we need is a targeted power to exclude British nationals from the United Kingdom," he said. "We need to address any potential gap in our armoury to keep our country safe."
Britain raised the terrorism threat level to "severe," the second-highest level, on Friday as a result of new intelligence from Syria and Iraq. The rating means an attack is "highly likely," but that there's no intelligence about a specific plot. The government was still drawing up detailed plans to stop fighters returning to carry out attacks, Cameron said.
On August 20, Islamic State released a video of a masked militant with a British accent beheading the US journalist James Foley. Security services on both sides of the Atlantic are working to identify the man and Cameron has asked officials what else they could do to prevent young Muslims from becoming radicalised.
Cameron said yesterday at least 500 people had travelled from the UK to fight in Iraq and Syria. He said 700 had travelled from France, 400 from Germany.
While the government has the power to revoke a passport, police are currently unable to exercise it when they encounter someone at the border whom they suspect of planning to travel to a war zone, the prime minister said. Police will get the power to confiscate travel documents at the border while investigations are carried out, Cameron said.
Cameron also said guidelines requiring airlines to share flight data with security services would be formalised, and those who failed to comply would not be allowed to land in Britain.