Ruthless people-smugglers behind thousands of small boat Channel crossings will be hunted like ISIS terrorists in countries like Iraq, vows security minister Tom Tugendhat
- The MP for Tonbridge and Malling is working with Iraqi officials
- Same techniques that dismantled IS will be used to go after gangsters
Ruthless people smugglers behind thousands of small boat Channel crossings will be hunted like ISIS terrorists in countries like Iraq, the security minister has said.
On his first trip back to the Middle Eastern country since he was wounded in battle while fighting for the British Army in 2003, Tom Tugendhat said he was working with Iraqi officials to close the net around human traffickers.
With specialist training from British armed forces, Iraqi law enforcement will use the same anti-terror techniques that dismantled IS infrastructure to go after the gangsters who prey on human misery, he said.
‘The skills the Iraqis have used in the fight against Daesh are the same that will be used to fight organised crime,’ Mr Tugendhat told the Mail.
‘These organised crime groups are a lot more like militia than typical crime groups.
Tom Tugendhat was making his first trip back to Iraq since he was wounded in battle while fighting for the British Army in 2003
Almost 1,300 migrants made the journey across the Channel last week, bringing the provisional total for this year so far to 18,000
‘I am very glad to say that the ICTS (Iraq Counter Terrorism Service) have succeeded in destroying much of the IS infrastructure in Iraq.
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‘And we need to make sure that these organised criminal groups that are facilitating people trafficking into the UK receive the same treatment.’
Almost 1,300 migrants made the journey across the Channel last week, bringing the provisional total for this year so far to 18,000.
The average number of migrants per boat rose to 67 on Sunday after 337 people were found in just five vessels.
The migrant crisis has become a key priority for the Prime Minister, who has made a key pledge to ‘stop the boats’.
And Rishi Sunak’s government faces a legal challenge over a component of its plan to send migrants who enter the UK illegally to Rwanda, with the case due to be heard at the Supreme Court in October.
Mr Tugendhat said: ‘We can’t solve the issue simply by shouting at France. We need to attack this at the source.
‘If you follow the money and the routes they are operating then you can find the leaders of many of these operations right here, in Iraq.’
Iraqi law enforcement will use the same anti-terror techniques that dismantled IS infrastructure to go after the gangsters who prey on human misery, the MP said
During his time in Baghdad, Mr Tugendhat met with Prime Minister Mohammad Shia Al-Sudani, Minister for Foreign Affairs Fuad Hussein, and Minister of Interior, Lt Gen. Abdul-Amir Al-Shammeri.
He also met with defence minister Tahbit Al Abbasi in the office from which Saddam Hussein governed the country.
Iraq and the UK are preparing to sign a Statement of Intent to tackle shared organised crime threats in the coming weeks.
The UK has already trained 111,000 members of Iraqi Security forces, including 21,000 of the Kurdish Peshmerga.
Mr Tugendhat was wounded twice during a ten-hour firefight deep behind enemy lines before the gunner of a Chinook sent in to evacuate his special forces unit mistook him for an Iraqi and opened fire, hitting him in the chin and his chest-worn body armour.
The MP for Tonbridge and Malling, who also served in Afghanistan, said it was ‘surreal’ returning during peace time to the same sites he witnessed while under fire.
‘The last time I came here I had to literally fight my way into Baghdad Airport,’ he said.
‘Happily, things are very different now and it is incredible that we can sit in Saddam Hussein’s former office with the current defence minister and discuss the shared interests of our two nations.’
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