The terror offenders cleared for release by Parole Board under new laws

Flora Thompson, PA Home Affairs Correspondent
·3-min read

Just two terror offenders have been cleared for release from jail by the Parole Board under new laws to keep them behind bars for longer.

Two women who helped fund terrorism were directed to be freed from prison in the first year since tougher legislation was introduced.

Emergency laws to block the early automatic release of terrorists from jail were passed in February last year after two attacks in three months were carried out by extremists released from prison.

Terror offenders must now serve two-thirds of their sentence before being eligible for release, rather than the previous halfway mark, and first need to be reviewed by the Parole Board.

Some 22 cases have been referred to the Parole Board under the new legislation so far since it was introduced.

Out of ten cases completed so far, two were directed for release, seven were refused and remain in jail and one case was withdrawn as the offender faced deportation.

But even if the Parole Board refuses to direct release, offenders serving a fixed term behind bars will still be automatically freed later on once they have served their full sentence.

Amaani Noor, the ex-girlfriend of a professional footballer and a former Miss Teen GB semi-finalist, was jailed for 18 months in 2019 after being found guilty of fundraising for terrorism.

The 21-year-old from Liverpool, who had planned to join her Islamist fighter husband in Syria, claimed she believed the 45 dollars, around £35, she donated to the Merciful Hands organisation the previous year would go to buy food for women and children in the war-torn country.

But she was found guilty by a jury after her trial heard she had used the Telegram app to discuss extremist groups including so-called Islamic State (IS) and had access to video footage showing torture, beheadings and people being set on fire.

A Parole Board document, detailing the decision to direct her release in the summer last year, said at the time of her offending risks had included “relationship problems, unhelpful beliefs and association with those who supported extremism.”

Khranjit Nijjer
Khranjit Nijjer was cleared for release from prison.

It added: “Ms Noor had not had the opportunity to undertake accredited programmes to address offending behaviour and the reports within the dossier indicated that this was unlikely to become available before the end of Ms Noor’s sentence.

“Ms Noor had engaged with the prison Imam which had helped to better her understanding of her faith.”

She was considered to have “motivation to address issues” and the panel was “satisfied” that she was suitable for release, subject to conditions including living at a designated address, attending supervision appointments, to wear an electronic tag and adhere to a curfew and not contact certain people.

Khranjit Nijjer, 32, from south east London, was jailed in 2018 for five years and three months for funding her husband’s terrorist activities in Syria.

Nijjer initially denied knowing about his links to a terrorist group but messages and pictures contradicting her account were discovered alongside thousands of pounds in payments and she later admitted funding terrorism.

The Parole Board confirmed she was cleared for release after a hearing but the reasons for this decision have not been made public.

After rule changes, the Parole Board can now issue summaries of decisions and the reasons behind them to the press and public as part of efforts to make the work of the body less secretive.

PA requested a copy of the decision summary but this was refused by Parole Board chairman Caroline Corby because evidence suggested making such a document public in any form “may allow the potential for identification/serious disruption of Ms Nijjer’s rehabilitation which would not be in the public interest”.

Withholding this information from the press and public is “extremely rare” and only happens in “exceptional circumstances”, a board spokesman added.