By Steve Swann and Dominic Casciani BBC News
Two men accused of being part of a “prolific extremist network” have lost their appeal against control orders.
The men, referred to at the High Court as CC and CF, are accused of fighting in Somalia with the al-Qaeda-linked insurgent group al-Shabab.
They were arrested in January 2011 in Somaliland, a breakaway Somali state.
The judge said the national security case against CC was “overwhelming” while CF had “played a substantial role” in the jihadist network.
The judgement reveals the men claim UK agencies colluded in their alleged mistreatment before their return home.
The Home Office neither confirmed nor denied publicly during the case whether the UK authorities had been involved in an overseas operation against the men.
The court heard how CC and CF had been assessed by MI5 to be “linked to a group of six British nationals who received terrorist training from Al Qaeda operatives” in Somalia. They are said to have facilitated the travel of several people from the UK “to enable them to take part in terrorism-related activity”.
MI5 claims they bought weapons and plotted to attack Western interests in Somaliland.
The court heard that the home secretary approved a control order for CC the day before he was arrested by the authorities in Somaliland. He and CF were held for three months in Hargeisa Prison where they say they were interrogated and that “UK personnel provided questions, shared evidence and may have been present on or nearby the prison site”.
CC claims MI5 “participated actively” in his interrogation “despite knowledge that he had been abused and that he remained exposed to a risk of further abuse”.
The two men were then flown back to the UK and served with control orders which severely restricted their movements.
In the case before the High Court, the men argued their arrest, detention and subsequent deportation was unlawful and that the control orders imposed on them should be quashed. Following the abolition of the control order regime, the men were subjected to replacement controls, known as Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIM’s).
But Lord Justice Lloyd Jones rejected their appeal, ruling that “the national security case against CC is overwhelming”. On CF, who is also accused of attempting to travel to Afghanistan to “engage in suicide operations”, he found that he “played a substantial role” in the jihadist network.
The judge threw out their claim of an abuse of process against the British agencies. The detail for his reasons is contained in a separate “closed” judgment which cannot be released on grounds of national security.
In his open judgment, Lord Justice Lloyd Jones ruled that “for present purposes, I have assumed that the arrest, detention and deportation of the Respondents (CC and CF) were not in accordance with Somaliland law”, but this was not an abuse of process.