Nearly 100 convicted terrorists are being considered for release from prison by the Parole Board.
Several of 92 active and ongoing terror cases could come before parole judges to be ruled on next year depending on how it long it takes to gather the relevant evidence needed for each hearing.
Emergency laws were passed in February blocking the automatic release of terrorists behind bars after two attacks were carried out in a three-month period by extremists who had recently been freed from jail.
Terror offenders must now serve two thirds of their sentence before becoming eligible for release, as opposed to the previous benchmark of half, and each individual first needs to be reviewed by the Parole Board.
Some of the cases under review include that of Nazam Hussain, who plotted attacks alongside London Bridge terrorist Usman Khan, and Jack Coulson, who was convicted of making a pipe bomb in his Nazi memorabilia-filled bedroom and downloading a terror handbook in July 2018.
Both could have their bids for freedom determined by the Parole Board in February
Terror boss Rangzieb Ahmed, the first person to be convicted in the UK of directing terrorism after heading up a three-man al Qaida cell that was preparing to commit mass murder, is anticipated to have his case decided upon in March.
In the same month a decision may be made on whether Jawad Akbar can be released – one of five terrorists who plotted to bomb the Bluewater shopping centre in Dartford, Kent, and the Ministry of Sound nightclub in London in 2004.
Islamic extremist Abdalraouf Abdallah, who was visited in prison by Manchester Arena suicide bomber Salman Abedi but denies any involvement in the attack, was recalled to prison for breaching the conditions of his licence earlier this year.
He is likely to be reconsidered for release in the first half of 2022 along with Aras Hamid, who tried to leave the UK to join fighters with so-called Islamic State.
Since the introduction of the Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Act 2020, a total of 117 cases have been referred to the Parole Board.
To date, 11 have been freed and 14 refused release from prison.
Terror cases often take longer to consider due to their ‘complexity’ and ‘go through painstaking and thorough processes’ to ensure all necessary evidence is available to panels overseeing the hearings, the Parole Board says.
Intelligence from security services forms a ‘key part’ of many terrorist parole reviews, with the panels tasked with making the decisions made up of members including former and serving judges, chief constables, prison governors, prosecutors, psychologists and psychiatrists.
Each requires ‘top level security clearance’ in order to hear the often sensitive evidence given at the hearings.
Terror cases make up a ‘tiny’ proportion of the Parole Board’s caseload – equating to fewer than 100 of the roughly 16,000 it deals with each year.
However, because of the ‘critical public protection nature’ of terror cases, the Parole Board is increasing the number of specialists who can handle them and hopes to have around 70 panel members by early 2022.
A spokesperson for the Parole Board said: ‘Public protection is always our top priority.
‘Any terrorist convicted offender released into the community will be subject to some of the strictest licence conditions available, including restrictions of where they can go, who they can associate with, restrictions on internet use, electronic devices, travel and work.
‘They will also be subject to further close monitoring as part of Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements.’