M2 is in his late twenties. He comes from a large family who run a business selling agricultural equipment in Afghanistan. M2 was born in Afghanistan and came to the UK seeking asylum as unaccompanied minor. With time, he was granted Indefinite Leave to remain and then British citizenship in 2011. He went to college in Uxbridge and since then worked as a mobile phone technician and driver.
M2’s brother in law and cousin is a man called Mir Alam who is considered by the Secretary of State to be ‘a significant terrorist’. M2 has kept in some contact with Mir Alam due to his sister but the Secretary of State considers that relationship to be more of a ‘sympathiser and co-operator’. It is M2’s association with his family member as well as an ‘in-direct association’ with another individual assessed to be member of an extremist group that lies at the basis for M2’s deprivation.
In January 2014 M2 got news of his mother being seriously ill. He arranged to go and see her but before that, she requested he would on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. Before his departure ‘Tom’ who worked for the MI5 approached him on the street. Tom invited M2 to his car where two of his colleagues were waiting for M2 and asked him to identify photos of several individuals, including a person who attended the same mosque as M2. Tom asked about M2’s travel, including his approaching trip to Saudi and Afghanistan. M2 provided Tom with the details of his travels and his phone number. The next day, Tom called M2 warning him that he might be stopped if he left the country, but that he should then call Tom on his number if that would happen. Since M2 has been charged with sexual offence in the UK for which he was put on bail, on the advice of Tom he also cleared his travels with his criminal solicitor who said he was good to travel. But on the day of his departure he was stopped at Heathrow airport and told that if he leaves he would be breaching his bail because his case was going to be heard in court the next day. M2 could therefore not leave and appeared in court the next day when his bail was revoked. He made his trip to Saudi and then to see his family a couple of weeks later. He was able to leave the UK but was stopped on arrival at Kabul airport and soon approached by a representative from the MI6, a man he recognised as Tom’s colleague from the day when he got stopped on the street to identify photos. After a while, M2 was able to make it to his family home.
A few months later, in May 2014, the Secretary of State made the decision to deprive M2 of his British citizenship under the ‘conducive to public good’ criteria based on the assessment that M2 posed a ‘risk to the national security of the UK’. Unusually for citizenship deprivation cases, the notice of M2’s deprivation was sent to his representatives and he was later contacted by telephone and informed of his deprivation. This suggests that the British government knew he was abroad and waited for M2 to leave the country before depriving him of citizenship, which is a common practice in citizenship deprivations cases because citizenship deprivation has immediate effect.
When M2 then attempted to return to the UK less than a month later, he was stopped at Kabul airport. He tried to enter the UK again a month later but was refused entry. M2 has appealed his deprivation from abroad, a common practice in the vast majority of the citizenship deprivation cases.
M2 is assessed to be an ‘Islamist extremist who has been involved in terrorism-related activity’. It seems that the major issue is M2’s association through his cousin and brother-in-law as well as another individual connected to an extremist group in Afghanistan. His association to the first individual is through family ties and his association to the second person is considered ‘at least indirect’.
‘The Secretary of State is entitled to take a preventative or precautionary approach’
Throughout the appeal proceedings in SIAC, references were made to M2’s Islamic identity. He is a member of the Tableeghi Jamaat and the nature of the group, being a missionary movement, was brought up in SIAC as source of concern. Here, guilt by association is obvious when the Secretary of State argued that being member of the religious movement did not mean one was an extremist ‘however nor does it indicate moderate views’. This was based on information that two of the London bombers were affiliated with the Tableeghi Jamaat. In his defence, M2 has argued that he is not an extremist and wishes to continue to live his life in England.
M2’s appeal heard in SIAC at the end of 2015 was dismissed. SIAC upheld the deprivation order arguing that M2’s case is about ‘assessment of future risk’ and that ‘the Secretary of State is entitled to take a preventative or precautionary approach’.
SIAC (2015) M2-July2015