Britain’s security officials were on Monday left embarrassed following the release of CCTV evidence showing a terror suspect going into a mosque in west London on Friday and escaping notice as he slipped out wearing a burqa.
Mohammed Ahmed Mohamed, 27, is linked to the Somali group al-Shabab, and is subject to an order restricting his movements through a GPS tag. He has been under surveillance, but went missing after entering the An-Noor Masjid and Community Centre in Acton on Friday.
The opposition Labour party called for an explanation from the government, with shadow Home secretary Yvette Cooper describing the situation as ‘extremely serious’. Home secretary Theresa May was scheduled to make a statement in the House of Commons.
CCTV images released by Scotland Yard showed him arriving wearing a jacket and trousers and then leaving the mosque in the burqa. The police advised anyone who saw Mohamed not to approach him and to call 999.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "The Counter Terrorism Command immediately launched inquiries to trace Mr Mohamed and these continue. Ports and borders were notified with his photograph and details circulated nationally. Public safety remains our priority."
Liberal Democrats peer Lord Carlile, who is also a former reviewer of anti-terror laws, said: "We were assured by the government that extra money would be spent on surveillance to ensure that exactly this kind of event did not occur. Yet the person concerned was able to walk in the front door of a mosque as a man and out through another door as a woman, on CCTV which was not seen, apparently, by the authorities."
Officials said Mohamed had received terrorist training in Somalia and fought in support of al-Shabab. He also reportedly supported a UK-based network supporting terrorist-related activity in Somalia and had been involved in attack planning against Western interests in east Africa.