French lawmakers tackle tough new anti-terror bill

AP News
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Posted: Sep 15, 2014 9:38 AM
French lawmakers tackle tough new anti-terror bill

PARIS (AP) — France's parliament is opening debate on a bill providing new tools to fight terrorism, including taking away passports of suspected would-be jihadi fighters and blocking Internet sites luring French to the battlefield.

Debate on the bill opened Monday as France hosted a conference of more than two dozen countries to organize a multi-layered offensive — including airstrikes —against the brutal Islamic State group, which has taken over large areas of Iraq and Syria and lured thousands from the West to its cause.

French authorities have stressed the need to adapt national law to cope with the evolving terrorism threat. The West fears the return of battle-hardened citizens from Syria and Iraq after their time waging jihad, especially with the Islamic State group.

Security issues enjoy a consensus not normally present in the feisty parliament making the bill, a panoply of preventative and repressive measures, likely to pass in the lower house before moving to the Senate, controlled by the governing Socialists. The vote date wasn't immediately clear.

Confiscating passports of suspected wannabe jihadi as part of a larger system to prevent them from leaving France is among prime measures in the bill. Broadening legal instruments to go after "individuals" is another key change. France's current anti-terror law targets "groups."

Taking the French fight against jihadi to the Internet, the top source of indoctrination and calls to the battlefield, is another key measure. The new law would block sites that defend or lead to terrorism and oblige Internet service providers and Web site hosts to signal anything defending terrorism or seen as provoking it.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in an interview published Sunday in Le Journal du Dimanche that 930 French or French residents are in Syria and Iraq, preparing to go or en route. He said 36 have been killed.