France Approves Counter-Terror Bill on Jihadists

September 18, 2014  

France’s lower house National Assembly on Thursday approved an “anti-terrorism” bill which will usher in a travel ban on anyone suspected of planning to wage jihad, in light of the growing number of Islamic State (ISIS) recruits from the West.

The bill comes as authorities are increasingly wary about the number of French citizens travelling to fight in Iraq and Syria who could potentially come back and stage attacks in their home country – a threat currently facing numerous western countries.

Most political groups at the National Assembly have already approved the bill, and it will be debated by the upper house Senate next month.

The bill includes the travel ban, which would see suspects have their passports and ID cards confiscated for six months, renewable for up to two years, as well as punishment for “lone wolves” who plan terrorist attacks on their own.

It also allows authorities to ask Internet service providers to block access to sites that praise “acts of terrorism,” as the internet has been widely used as a recruiting tool for jihadist terror groups.

However, “La Quadrature du Net,” a French association that defends online rights, called the bill “dangerous and destructive of freedoms”.

“The debates at the National Assembly on the terrorism bill showed that voting for a law by giving in to emotions linked to current events allows for freedoms to be rolled back with hardly any protest,” Philippe Aigrain, co-founder of the association, was quoted as saying in a statement.

“Citizens will not let their rights be undermined on the pretext of measures that are inefficient against terrorism and potentially dangerous,” he added.

According to Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, around 930 French citizens including at least 60 women are either actively engaged in jihad in Iraq and Syria or are planning to go there, a 74% increase in eight months.

Other countries in Europe have similar issues. Britain, for instance, says some 400 to 500 nationals have traveled to the region to fight and Prime Minister David Cameron also wants to give border police powers to seize passports from suspected jihadists.

Australia, Canada and Germany are among the many nations also dealing with the phenomenon of returning terrorists and local terror cells, as well as the issue of drafting legislature to combat the threat.

Likewise Mehdi Nemmouche, a French national suspected of killing four people at Brussels’ Jewish Museum in May, had spent more than a year fighting with Islamic extremists in Syria, where he served as an ISIS torturer.

And last week six people were detained near the eastern city of Lyon on suspicion of recruiting candidates for jihad.

According to a police source, one of the suspects was linked to Forsane Alizza (Knights of Pride), an Islamist extremist group that had called for France to become an Islamic caliphate and that was banned in 2012.

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