Passport buying jihadis figment of IDS imagination

by Luke Lythgoe | 24.02.2016

Iain Duncan Smith has conjured up the idea that jihadis could buy EU citizenship and travel to London to commit a terrorist attack. He doesn’t seem to have considered the intensive background checks involved in these passport-purchasing schemes targeted at high rollers. This threat is a figment of the minister’s fertile imagination.

Duncan Smith’s theory is a variation on a theme used to scaremonger about free movement within the EU espoused by Nigel Farage and Liam Fox. InFacts has already discredited this hypothetical plot as overly complicated, long-winded and being out of character with previous terrorist plots.

“We heard a little while ago of countries that actually sold passports,” explained Duncan Smith on BBC Newsnight (see 9 mins). He is presumably referring to how rich people can buy passports in return for investing in Malta and Cyprus.

In Malta the investor must pay the government €650,000, plus €25,000 per spouse or dependant, hold real estate worth over €350,000, invest a further €150,000 in the country, hold global health insurance worth €50,000 and pay various administrative fees – giving a total bill of over €1.2 million. They must also have resided in Malta for 12 months.

In Cyprus, individuals must invest at least €5 million, although there is no prior residency requirement.

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    Even if terrorists hit these financial qualifications, there are intensive background checks. The Maltese system involves four tiers: a thorough online check, background checks from two international due diligence consultancy firms, a risk-weighting procedure, and government and criminal record checks. The names of all applicants are also published annually.

    Eric Major, CEO of Henley & Partners, one of the firms that facilitates the sale of citizenship, told InFacts it was “ludicrous” to think terrorists would try to exploit this route. “If you’re a person of nefarious or concerning background, you wouldn’t subject yourself to such a process because it’s intrusive and comprehensive.”

    The more expensive Cypriot model is not as comprehensive as Malta’s, but still requires a number of documents including property ownership, audited company accounts, and a certificate for a clean criminal record in the applicant’s country of origin (see section C).

    If a wealthy jihadi wanted to come to Britain, it would actually be easier to bypass the rest of the EU and come directly. The UK has an investor immigration programme, where individuals pay £2 million for three-year residency visas for work and study. Background checks are in place, but it’s not the four-tier Maltese system. Mind you, even that wouldn’t be easy. If Islamic State wants to attack London, it’s best bet is to use home-grown terrorists.
    Duncan Smith’s office didn’t respond to questions.

    Edited by Hugo Dixon

    2 Responses to “Passport buying jihadis figment of IDS imagination”

    • SO, IDS(aka Intellectually Deficient Space) has ”…heard a little while ago of countries that actually sold passports”, while completely ignoring the fact that the UK, along with such notorious terror-supporting states as Canada & the USA, offer essentially the same thing – residence permits and accelerated citizenship for approved investors……..

      And they accuse the Remain campaign of operating a ‘Project Fear’?