France to unveil plan to fight Syrian jihadist threat

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 22, 2014 10:28 AM

PARIS (Reuters) - France is to unveil policies to stop its citizens joining the Syrian civil war, a government source said on Tuesday, aiming to prevent young French Muslims becoming radicalized and posing a threat to their home country.

The Interior Ministry will present some 20 measures on Wednesday, including a plan to stop minors leaving France without parental consent, increased surveillance of Islamist websites that recruit fighters and a system to encourage parents to signal suspicious behavior in their children.

"France will take all measures to dissuade, prevent and punish those who are tempted to fight where they have no reason to be," President Francois Hollande told reporters on Tuesday.

With radical Sunni Muslims from outside Syria fighting alongside Syrians against President Bashar al-Assad, Western countries are concerned of the security risk at home.

Last year, Britain passed a law to make it easier to confiscate the passport of anyone whose "actual or suspected" activities are deemed contrary to the public interest.

France estimates the number of its nationals directly or indirectly involved in the Syrian civil war at about 700.

At the weekend, four French journalists who returned from Syria after being held captive by the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, said some of their captors had been French-speaking.

The government source said: "This will be a comprehensive plan to fight a phenomenon that is in sharp progression.

"The idea is to deal with the problem from when someone is in their room watching jihadi videos to the moment when they are taking the bus ... to the Turkish-Syrian border."

In 2012, seven people were killed by an al Qaeda-inspired French citizen, Mohamed Merah.

(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)