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A security source has told The Daily Telegraph that one of the men was stopped after he flew into Manchester Airport from Pakistan only last week, when immigration officials discovered he did not have the correct documents to enter the country.
"It was a shambles," the source said. "This man's documents were all over the place when he landed. He was allowed to proceed on the basis that he had to come back for an appointment with immigration at a later date and show them correct documents. He was effectively left free to do whatever he wanted."
Another suspect, Johnus Khan, was allegedly working virtually full-time as a security guard on building sites until three months ago, when he was challenged by immigration officials.
His former employer, Haroon Khan, said: "As a student, you're only allowed to work for a certain number of hours if you are on a student visa. He worked above his allowed amount. When immigration got involved, some of his friends were deported.
"He was working four or five days a week and we had to cut down to two."
He said Mr Khan was enrolled at Liverpool John Moores University.
"I don't know what he studied," his employer added. "As far as I knew he was never at university, just always working."
Mr Mercer said of the latest revelations: "This is symptomatic of the fact that there are wholesale breaches of immigration regulations and yet nothing ever seems to be done about it.
"This is especially worrying when you consider that it seems to be the case with terrorism issues time after time. Alleged terrorists have already been in the hands of our security authorities but nothing has been done."
Almost 400,000 student visas are granted every year, with around 10,000 being issued in Pakistan alone. Foreign students bring with them a £10 billion boost to the economy which the Government is keen to encourage.
But the deluge of applicants has led to concerns that proper background checks are not being carried out.