MORE potential security threats have tried to enter the UK from Afghanistan in the last two weeks than in the past two years as thousands scramble to leave the country.
Ministers last night were forced to defend their system of checks as it was revealed that a citizen on a no-fly list had managed to get onto a plane bound for Birmingham.
Four were prevented from boarding but one person, who has not been identified, managed to slip through the net.
Serious criminals and potential militants are put on the ‘no-fly list’ to stop them posing threats to Brits, but the Home Office insisted the person was flagged in a “rigorous checks process”.
And Defence Secretary Ben Wallace stressed that the individual was no longer a “person of interest” to UK authorities.
He said yesterday: “The watch list, or the no-fly list, pinged and the individual was identified so that is a plus side that it worked.
“This process is working and flagging people, they are screened. We check who people are on databases – we don’t just open the gates, or I fear there would be many more.
“The good news is, it was picked up, amongst all the chaos, and upon further examination, it wasn’t serious.”
Security experts fear that wannabe-terrorists will continue to try and take advantage of safe passages to the UK in the scramble to get out of the country before American troops withdraw next week.
One MP said of a call earlier this week with ministers: “They told us more people presented to get on flights from Kabul to the UK who were flagged up as problematic in the last two weeks, than in the last two years.”
Read our Afghanistan live blog for the latest updates
Chris Bryant MP, who sits on the Foreign Affairs committee said last night: “It would be a complete own goal if in our attempts to help get people out, we lost sight of security concerns and put more of our own citizens at risk.
“I’m sure there will be some Taliban chaps shaving off their beards pretending to be someone in need somewhere – it’s a very difficult balancing act to get right.”
And Labour’s Neil Coyle added: “We have people who are security cleared but we can’t get them onto a flight.
“How are people being checked when they can’t even get into the airport?”
Britain has rescued more than 8,000 people from the war-torn country since August 13 as the Taliban took control.
British nationals, diplomatic staff, and others have been flown out, with many eligible for relocation because they worked for the UK government or are deemed at risk under the new administration.
A government official said: “There are people in Afghanistan who represent a serious threat to national security and public safety.
“That is why thorough checks are taking place by government, our world-class intelligence agencies and others.”