France to stop would-be jihadists from travelling

AP News
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Posted: Jan 16, 2015 12:41 PM
France to stop would-be jihadists from travelling

PARIS (AP) — French authorities can now ban suspected jihadists from leaving the country, confiscate passports and stop non-citizens who live in France from returning if they pose a danger.

The law, approved by parliament in November, entered into force Friday. It gives authorities the power to confiscate passports and identity cards when they have "serious reasons" to believe that a person intends to travel abroad with terrorist purpose or to head to countries where terrorist groups are operating, such as Syria or Iraq.

The law also allows authorities to stop people with French residency — but not citizenship — from returning if their presence would be "a real, present, serious threat" to security.

The French government is also working on new phone-tapping and other intelligence laws, prompted by the terror attacks that left 20 dead in Paris last week, including three gunmen.

The travel ban does not specifically target returning jihadis but it will help French authorities identify those currently abroad and track them when they return.

The creation of a new individual terrorism offense also enables police to more easily arrest those who represent a threat on French soil. Until now, arrests were limited to people suspected of involvement in a "terrorist enterprise."

The Belgian government on Friday decided to start using its army for certain security tasks, part of a 12-point anti-terror plan agreed upon after police shot to death two suspects Thursday in eastern Verviers. The government will also expand laws to make traveling abroad with terror aims a crime and allow authorities to withdraw identification cards from people suspected of traveling to such zones.

In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron has proposed new laws that would give police the power to seize the passports of Britons suspected of having traveled abroad to fight with terrorist groups.