Britain to seize passports of teens at risk of travelling to join IS group

'The stakes are rising and that demands a new approach,' British PM says in remarks to be delivered today


Will Oliver/EPA

Will Oliver/EPA

LONDON — Prime Minister David Cameron is to unveil new plans to combat extremism Monday, expanding the government’s power to seize passports from young people at risk of travelling abroad to join groups like Islamic State. The measures also include forcing people convicted of extremist offences to be barred from working with children.

“The stakes are rising and that demands a new approach,” Cameron said in remarks to be delivered Monday. “So we have a choice — do we choose to turn a blind eye or do we choose to get out there and make the case for our British values?”

While Cameron didn’t define what he considers extremist views, he highlighted the growing number of young people who have left home to fight in Syria, and the recent case of a 15-year-old convicted of inciting terrorism abroad. The government has already been able to seize the passports of those under 16, and that will now apply to 16- and 17-year-olds as well.

An extra 5 million pounds ($7.7 million) will be ploughed into moderate Muslim groups and charities this year, Cameron said.

Muslim organizations rejected Cameron’s “One Nation” strategy, warning that it risks alienating Muslims and could be counter-productive.

The Muslim Council of Britain’s secretary general, Shuja Shafi, said the strategy is based on a “fuzzy” conception of British values. While the council supports efforts to fight terrorism, the government must not suppress freedom of thought or expression, Shafi said in a statement.

He said he saw “McCarthyist undertones” in the proposal for blacklists against people deemed to be extremist.