Germany aims to tighten law on training in terrorist camps

Berlin (dpa) – Attending a terrorist training camp should be punished with up to 10 years in prison, German Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries said on presenting an outline for new legislation in Berlin Tuesday. The move follows the cracking of an alleged Islamist terrorist cell on September 4. The three men who were arrested – two German converts to Islam and a Turk – had all undergone training last year in Pakistan. Zypries also said the new law would facilitate the deportation of dangerous foreigners and would aim to close gaps in current legislation.

Refused Marriage: The broken hearts of Vanessa and Hussein

Waitress Venessa and her partner Hussein, a florist, recently learned that their application for marriage has been rejected by French authorities Since July 24, 2006, foreigners who marry to a French national were no longer guaranteed a residential permit. For Venessa and Hussein, they have had the misfortune that the agent reviewing their case was not convinced of the sincerity of their feelings for each other. They are appealing the case but fear Hussein’s deportation-which could come as abruptly as a knock on the door.

Most British Muslims back the government’s plans to deport radical Islamist “hate preachers”

Most British Muslims back the government’s plans to deport radical Islamist “hate preachers” it says could inspire bombers like those who attacked London in July, a poll published on Sunday showed. The ICM poll found that 65 percent of Muslims backed the new government measures and 27 percent opposed them. Ninety percent said they would immediately tell police if they suspected someone was planning or had carried out a terrorist attack. Just over two thirds of those questioned said Britain’s 1.8 million Muslims bore “a lot” of responsibility for rooting out Islamist extremists, 19 percent said they bore “a little” responsibility and nine percent said they bore none. ICM interviewed 500 Muslims by telephone between Sept. 1 and 7 for the poll, published in the News Of The World newspaper. Home Secretary Charles Clarke has published a list of “unacceptable behaviours” which would prompt immediate action — either deportation or a ban on entry. Last month, Britain said it was detaining 10 people, including the alleged spiritual leader of Al Qaeda in Europe, Jordanian national Abu Qatada, and would deport them. It has also barred hardline Muslim cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed, who left for Lebanon last month, from returning to Britain. Civil liberties campaigners say they are worried Britain will deport people to countries where they might be tortured. The government responds that it is seeking agreements with other governments — like one it struck recently with Jordan — to guarantee the safety of deportees.

Britain Sets Ground Rules For Banning Foreign Extremists

By Alan Cowell LONDON Charles Clarke, the British home secretary, published a catalogue of terrorism-related offenses on Wednesday, setting the ground rules for Britain to ban or deport foreigners accused of fomenting hatred, violence and extremism. The list is directed primarily at firebrand Muslim clerics and scholars suspected by the government of inspiring violence among British Muslims, like those who carried out the London bombings in July. The announcement by Clarke, Britain’s most senior law enforcement official, followed a promise from the British prime minister, Tony Blair, earlier this month to take action, including closing mosques and barring clerics, to forestall future terrorist attacks. The measures announced Wednesday seemed slightly less sweeping than first promised by Blair. A Home Office statement said Clarke had decided not to include a catchall definition of unacceptable behavior as being “the expression of views that the government considers to be extreme and that conflict with the U.K.’s culture of tolerance.” In a statement, Clarke said the new regulations covered the expression of views which “foment, justify or glorify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs” or which “seek to provoke others to terrorist acts.” The list also banned actions to “foment other serious criminal activity or seek to provoke others to serious criminal acts” or to “foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence” in Britain. The new regulations cover several means of expression “including writing, producing, publishing or distributing material; public speaking including preaching; running a Web site; or using a position of responsibility such as teacher, community or youth leader,” the statement said. It was not immediately known who was most likely to be affected by the measures. Clarke said a “database of individuals around the world who have demonstrated these unacceptable behaviors will be developed.” Since Blair threatened to expel foreign-born militants earlier this month, the government has rounded up 10 men it plans to deport, including Abu Qatada, a Jordanian citizen of Palestinian descent accused by European investigators of being a spiritual guide to Al Qaeda. Britain also barred Omar Bakri Mohammed, born in Syria, from returning to Britain from a visit to Lebanon. The government said it was negotiating with various nations, including Jordan, for guarantees that militants sent back to their own countries would not be tortured or abused. “Individuals who seek to create fear, distrust and division in order to stir up terrorist activity will not be tolerated by the government or by our communities,” Clarke said. By publishing the list, “I make it absolutely clear that these are unacceptable behaviors, and will be the grounds for deporting and excluding such individuals” from Britain. Some civil rights groups challenged the measures. The “announcement fails to answer the fundamental question; will the government’s deportation plans result in suspects being sent to countries with a known record of torture?,” said James Welch, the legal director of a civil rights group called Liberty. “What has always separated us from the terrorists is that we do not torture people or send them to be tortured – that is the standard we need to maintain.” But the regulations drew a broad welcome from the opposition Liberal Democrats because it included provisions for appeal. “It is good that the home secretary has seen sense on the deportation rules,” said Mark Oaten, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on home affairs. “We broadly welcome the use of powers to deport people, as long as the individuals involved have a right to appeal and the case for deportation is reasonable.” Clarke said the measures would not limit free speech. “These powers are not intended to stifle free speech or legitimate debate about religions or other issues,” he said. “Britain is rightly proud of its openness and diversity and we must not allow those driven by extremism of any sort to destroy that tradition.”

Blair Seeking Law To Deport Radical Foreigners

By SHELLEY EMLING LONDON – Almost a month after suicide bombers killed 52 people on London’s transit system, Prime Minister Tony Blair said Friday Britain will move to deport foreigners who spout hatred, sponsor violence, or belong to radical groups. Using strong language, Blair announced plans for anti-terrorist legislation this fall that will tighten the country’s longtime policy of hosting foreign extremists, which has earned London the nickname “Londonistan.” “Coming to Britain is not a right. And even when people have come here, staying here carries with it a duty,” Blair said at his monthly news conference. “That duty is to share and support the values that sustain the British way of life. “Those that break that duty and try to incite hatred or engage in violence against our country and its people have no place here,” he said. Blair said a list of extremist Web sites, bookshops, centers, networks, and particular organizations of concern would be drawn up, and that foreign nationals involved in them may be deported. Those who have participated in terrorist activity would automatically be denied asylum. In a particularly controversial move, Blair said the new legislation would make membership in extremist Islamic groups a crime. He cited Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a movement that sprouted in the Middle East during the 1950s and which has called for the creation of an Islamic state in Central Asia. The group’s spokesman, Imran Waheed, called the organization a nonviolent political party and said it would fight any move to ban it in the courts. Blair also said he was prepared to amend human rights legislation if necessary in order to make the deportation of those involved in inciting terrorism “more straightforward.” He also said that citizenship rules already requiring those seeking British citizenship to swear allegiance to the country would be reviewed to see if changes were needed. The foreign Muslims who might face deportation under the new measures could include some of Britain’s best-known Islamic clerics. Blair pledged to include Muslim leaders on a commission that would help shape the new legislation. But his statements still prompted the mainstream Muslim Council of Britain to react with “concern and alarm.” “Banning Hizb-ut-Tahrir is certainly not the solution, and may well prove to be counterproductive,” said Iqbal Sacranie, the council’s secretary-general. “We understand that Hizb-ut-Tahrir in the United Kingdom are an avowedly nonviolent group. “If there are groups thought to be contravening our laws, then they ought to be prosecuted in courts of law, not driven underground,” he said. Shami Chakrabarti, director of civil liberties group Liberty, also expressed disappointment in Blair’s plans. “Shuffling people off around the globe is not an answer to national or world security,” she told BBC’s Radio 4. But Blair’s tough stance is sure to please critics who have long blasted Britain’s lax attitudes towards housing those who stir violence. In a recent editorial, the Daily Mail newspaper said that “the British state has taken an inexcusably relaxed attitude towards extreme Muslim sects and preachers, the worst of whom are anti-Semitic and homophobic and sympathetic to violence.” Other European countries have not been so tolerant. French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, for example, has wasted no time since the July 7 terrorist bombings in weeding out those who preach anti-Western hatred. France announced earlier this week that it would expel two radical Islamist leaders and plans to send home up to two dozen more by the end of August. Now it appears that Britain is set to follow suit. Blair pointed out that steps to tighten anti-terrorism legislation have met with fierce opposition in the past. “But, for obvious reasons, the mood now is different,” he said. “The country knows the purpose of terrorism is to intimidate and it is not inclined to be intimidated.” Indeed, many Britons applauded the hard-line stance. “I think (deportation) is a reasonable price to pay if someone has talked out against their country and incited others to act violently,” said Karen Pollock, a market researcher. “People who want to do harm need to be punished.”