London: British intelligence agency MI6 told an agent not to kill a senior al-Qaeda leader because lawyers advised them they would be breaking the law.
The agent, Morten Storm, who came up with the plan said that he was ‘cut off’ by the British security services after he took the idea to the CIA.
He was told that the British were no longer allowed to work with him because they were not allowed to get involved in assassinations, the Telegraph reports.
“We do not involve ourselves in encouraging people to participate in jihad and we don’t involve ourselves in killings abroad. Our objective is to gather intelligence,” Storm said that his MI5 handlers told him.
According to the report, the terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki, who was later killed by the Americans, was pumping out propaganda calling for attacks on the West and actively recruiting young Muslims to carry out such attacks.
Storm, the former leader of a motorbike gang in Denmark, lived in Britain on and off for 15 years, first as an extremist using the name ‘Murad’, then as an agent using an outdoor pursuits company as cover, the report said.
His work helped foil three terrorist plots in Britain and Denmark and led to the jailing of Hassan Tabbakh, a science graduate of Syrian origin who was making home-made bombs in Small Heath, Birmingham, the report added.
According to the report, a security source refused to talk about Storm, but said that MI6 does not get involved in “extra judicial killing or assassinations.”
The source said that MI6 officers are not allowed to do anything abroad that would be illegal in Britain, nor ask anyone to do it on their behalf, without permission from the Foreign Secretary, the report added.
‘Lethal force’ can be used with ministerial authorization only in times of ‘emergency or crisis which causes danger to the UK or its citizens’, which has effectively ruled out its use for decades, the report added.
Storm said that he was on a training course run by MI5 in Edinburgh when he told them he had an idea how to track down Anwar al-Awlaki, one of the leaders of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular (AQAP), the report said.
He said that he befriended Awlaki during his days as an extremist studying in Yemen, when the al-Qaeda leader was teaching at a local university, shortly after arriving from Britain, the report added.