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Fight against terrorism

Published on July 2, 2015
Communiqué issued following the Council of Ministers’ meeting
Paris, July 1, 2015

The Interior Minister made a statement on the fight against terrorism.

The terrorist threat France is facing has profoundly changed in nature and exists on several fronts beyond the borders [of the countries] where France is combating it, such as Mali and Iraq in the framework of the international coalition. These fronts are branching out to the shores of the Mediterranean, thanks to the collapse of the Libyan state and repeated destabilizing attacks on Maghreb countries, as shown by the recent events in Tunisia. France is especially concerned because many nationals of European Union countries are directly involved, including nearly 500 French people in Syria and Iraq (where 119 have been killed). The reign of terror established by terrorist groups also fuels much of the migration which, for several months now, has been increasing sharply.

In France itself nearly 2,000 people – French or foreigners normally residing in France – are directly or indirectly involved in violent religious radicalization and jihadist recruitment networks. The diversity of their life stories, profiles and motives, the permeability between radicalization and crime, and the central role played by the digital world in spreading hate messages and calls to commit terrorist acts and in the exchange of information with criminal commanders – all these factors show the complexity of the phenomenon.

So the government is carrying out resolute action on all these aspects, building on the legal framework, strengthening the intelligence services’ resources, adapting their working and cooperation methods, developing policies of prevention and of support for families, and taking initiatives at European and international level.

Thus, since 2013 three laws have enabled us to adapt France’s legislative framework to the new types of threat. They have simultaneously toughened up law-enforcement measures, broadened the application of the penal code to terrorist offences committed abroad by French nationals or foreigners normally residing in France, and introduced innovative administrative measures taken by the police, about entering and leaving the country and about illicit content on websites. Moreover, the intelligence bill, adopted by Parliament today and currently being examined by the Constitutional Council, aims to authorize the use of different intelligence techniques and strictly govern the intelligence services’ activities by subjecting them to an increased administrative and jurisdictional control which will guarantee respect for individual freedoms.

In the face of a diffuse and complex threat, the intelligence services’ capabilities absolutely had to be strengthened: the creation of the Directorate-General for Internal Security [DGSI] on 30 April 2014 was accompanied by two plans to increase its staff numbers (an additional 932 until 2018) and its budget. This effort enables it to significantly boost its analysis capabilities by means of specialized recruitment and to increase its presence across the country.

Furthermore, the anti-terrorism plan adopted on 21 January enables 904 additional jobs to be created in the 2015-2017 three-year budget, in services supporting the fight against terrorism (DGPN [Directorate-General of National Police], DGGN [Directorate-General of the National Gendarmerie], police headquarters) and in the legal and IT directorates which help support them. Over the same period, the Interministerial Crime Prevention Fund – which finances preventive action and support for families confronted with radicalization, as well as measures to protect certain sensitive sites and specific equipment for municipal police forces – will benefit from an additional €60 million in funding.

So in total, 1,836 anti-terrorism posts are being specifically created for the intelligence services, and nearly €270 million in operational and equipment costs will be mobilized until 2017. In particular, this effort enables us to reinvest massively in the field of domestic intelligence, which, in terms of preventing terrorism, had been particularly weakened by the 2008 domestic intelligence reform.

The new forms of threat France is confronting also required the specialized services’ working methods to be thoroughly adapted and made complementary to the police services. Two central reform objectives are being implemented, the first regarding the coordination and fluidity of information between the services, and the second establishing qualitative supervision of the follow-up and handling of “targets”.

In addition to enhanced cooperation between the intelligence community’s services, coordination between the specialized intelligence services and the general services supporting the intelligence operation has developed considerably, through the establishment of coordination and liaison offices at central and regional levels. The area level of the Central Territorial Intelligence Agency has been organized to be consistent with the DGSI’s area offices and its increased supervision.

Moreover, the complexity of phenomena of violent radicalization now makes constant operational oversight of cooperation between the services essential, in order to improve the performance, quality and exhaustiveness of the follow-up of high-risk individuals. Organized at departmental and area level under the authority of prefects, it will be led at central level by a dedicated unit bringing together specialized officers from the DGSI, the DGPN, the DGGN and police headquarters.

This unit will ensure, in detail and for each case, that every procedure is carried out by the relevant service or services and that every conclusion is drawn from the results shared, at judicial, operational and administrative levels. A specialized committee of area defence and security prefects will meet every month, chaired by the Interior Minister, to make sure the mechanism is operating successfully and guide its action.

Finally, France is particularly active in the international arena, within the European Union and beyond. In addition to the bilateral and multilateral operational cooperation it carries out, it is spearheading in-depth work on three areas essential to the fight against terrorism: the creation of an effective European PNR (Passenger Name Record), which will build on the French PNR; the adaptation of the Schengen Borders Code; and cooperation with the major Internet players, with which a “platform of good conduct”, a training programme for our staff and the creation of a permanent contact group have been agreed.

The action taken by the government has enabled the services to develop outstanding activity, which should be constantly improved by anticipating every aspect of a complex, developing phenomenon. Since 2012, 145 cases have been brought before the courts by the Interior Ministry’s departments, concerning 760 individuals; 179 of them have been placed under formal investigation and 121 imprisoned; 97 bans on leaving the country and 27 bans on entering have been issued. Twenty-four expulsions are under way and six applications for revocation of nationality have been processed.

It is through a comprehensive approach concerning every sector of economic and social life, giving in to neither naïve optimism nor ostracism, that France will win this battle: the battle of the universal values of humanity and tolerance against obscurantism and barbarism./.

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