Macron proposes extension of counterterrorism powers

President Macron’s government proposed an expansion of authorities’ powers to fight terrorism, alarming civil liberties advocates even as defenders said the plans would help keep French citizens safe.

The draft law was introduced after a series of attempted terrorist strikes in Paris and Brussels in recent weeks and several bloody attacks in Britain that were claimed by Islamic State-inspired militants.

The changes proposed Thursday seek to wind down a state of emergency that gave French security officials broad powers and was imposed after the November 2015 Paris attacks, which claimed 130 lives. Some of those powers would be made permanent, including the ability to temporarily shutter places of worship that promote extremism and conduct searches with fewer restrictions. The draft also strips some oversight powers from judges and gives security officials more latitude to act without judicial review.

 “I think we have achieved a good balance,” Interior Minister Gérard Collomb told reporters after a meeting of the French cabinet Thursday during which he proposed the law. “The aim is to put an end to the state of emergency.”

 

Macron and his predecessor, François Hollande, have sought to end the state of emergency, which has been extended several times since the 2015 attacks. It is slated to expire July 15, although Macron has asked for it to be prolonged until November.

The proposal “tries to preserve the balance between controlling terrorism and respecting liberties,” French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said Wednesday on France’s TF1 television station. “We cannot give up what we are.” 

He acknowledged that the law was a work in progress, saying that consultation with parliament, where Macron has a majority, would “enrich the text.” Macron last month announced the formation of a terrorism task force that would streamline communication among branches of intelligence and law enforcement, an idea praised by terrorism experts.

 

Since November 2015, French police have conducted over 4,000 searches and raids using emergency powers and placed about 400 people under house arrest, according to statistics collected by Amnesty International.

 

France Security: Chechens arrested amid high alert

In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack police in France have arrested five Chechens suspected of possessing explosives. Terrorism officials were not aware of the suspects prior to their arrest, although they were known to organized crime units.

Four men have also been charged with supporting Amedy Coulibaly and are due to appear in Paris court. Seventeen people were killed in three days of terror attacks in Paris.

The Chechens were apprehended during raids in Beziers and Saint-Jean-de-Vedas near Montpellier. Hidden explosives were found during the search and investigators are attempting to determine if they were planning an attack. Yvon Calvet said people “shouldn’t jump to conclusions” about the arrests. Chechnya has witnessed large demonstrations against the cartoons published in Charlie Hebdo of the Prophet Muhammad.

Brescia, Islamic Terrorists arrested

June 12, 2013

 

The leader and founder of the Italian branch of “Sharia4” an ultra-radical Islamic movement created ​​recently and banned in several European countries, was arrested in an operation coordinated between the counterterrorism unit and the Digos of Brescia. The young man, Anas El Abboubi, according to authorities, was looking for targets to hit in Italy. The prosecution assumed that the Moroccan man was training with the aim of international terrorism.
In addition to the arrest of a Moroccan, a 21-year resident with family in the province of Brescia has also been arrested. The men of anti-terrorism police Ucigos and Digos are running a series of raids in the Brescia and in Pordenone against 4 other Moroccans.

All persons involved in the operation, according to officials, were affiliated with the Italian branch of Sharia4, a movement that arose in Belgium in 2010 inspired by the pro-jihadist preacher Omar Bakri and has gradually assumed the structure of an international network using dedicated sites and Youtube channels. Two other people are being investigated.

There is no Islam in France, says Marine La Pen

News Agencies – October 8, 2012

 

There is no Islam that belongs to France, far-right National Front (FN) leader Marine Le Pen said in response to comments to the contrary from Interior Minister Manuel Valls. Le Pen said it was clear that the activities of radical Muslims were not being monitored on French soil, adding that all French Muslims that had become victims of Islamism had to accept the country’s secular system and combat radicalism.

Richard Prasquier, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF), also expressed his concerns about the growth of what he called an increasingly bellicose Islam, calling on the entire national Jewish community to defend itself against radicalization. Police detained 12 people suspected of involvement in radical Islamist activities mainly in Paris, Cannes and Strasbourg in other raids across the country. The Interior Ministry has said the raids will continue.

Islamicists planned to kidnap Jewish judge

News agencies – April 3, 2012

 

Preliminary charges are being filed against 13 Islamist radicals in France, a prosecutor announced, saying some had been calling for Muslim Shariah law in the country, doing weapons training and even planning to kidnap a judge. Prosecutor Francois Molins told a news conference the Forsane Alizza group, or Knights of Pride, did physical training in parks and forests, collected weapons and preached hate and violence on their Internet site, showing clips of late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The 13 — among 17 suspects detained in police raids last week — faced preliminary charges of criminal association linked to a terrorist network, a sweeping charge with a maximum 10-year prison term that is used in France to ensure a full investigation of terror suspects. Nine of the 13 are being jailed, Mr. Molins said. Charges of acquiring, transporting and detention of arms also were issued. The remaining four who had been detained were being released.

The prosecutor said several terror plans appeared to be in the works, including the kidnapping of a judge in Lyon, in southeast France. An official close to the investigation said the targeted judge is Jewish.

France arrests suspected Islamic militants

News Agencies – March 30, 2012

Police commandos arrested 19 suspected Islamic militants in raids in several French cities including Toulouse, where seven people were killed by an al Qaeda-inspired gunman this month. President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose firm handling of the response to the shooting spree may have improved his odds in an election race he has lagged in, said more raids would follow to get rid of “people who have no business in the country”.

Interior Minister Claude Gueant said those arrested had paramilitary-type training although he did not say if they were planning an actual attack. Television channels showed images of the early morning raids, with agents from the RAID police commando unit and anti-terrorist specialists bashing down doors, and smashing windows.

Four Radical Islamists Admit to Christmas Terror Plot

01.02.2012

On Wednesday, four British men have pleaded guilty to involvement in plotting to bomb the London Stock Exchange as part of a series of al Qaeda-inspired attacks across London leading up to Christmas 2010. In total, a group of nine men, fuelled by radical Islamic thought, were brought together through radical Islamist groups and developed the plans to attack the stock exchange and other high-profile targets, such as Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, London Eye, and the US Embassy. However, British authorities had learned of the plot and put the men under surveillance. They were arrested in raids in December 2010. Initially, they had denied all charges.

The four men who pleaded guilty emphasised that they had not planned to kill anyone, but only to cause terror and economic harm and disruption. They could now face a prison-sentence of up to 18 years, with actual time in jail of around 6 years. They will be sentenced next week.

Muslims in America: Have you felt under suspicion?

Continuing our series of stories on Muslims in America, we turn our attention to the sometimes tense relationship between law enforcement and Muslims. Today’s story by Jerry Markon follows a FBI agent in the Boston field office as he reaches out to Muslims while also scrutinizing extremists within the community.

Last week, Michelle Boorstein wrote about Iqbal Unus, a U.S. Islamic leader who struggled to put post-9/11 raids behind him.

On Faith invited a group of Muslim readers to respond to Boorstein’s story by answering a few questions on faith and suspicion. Below is what two readers had to say. We will post more responses to On Faith as they come in. Share your story at the bottom of this post.

Local U.S. Islamic leader struggles to put raids behind him

Unus has spent 40 years building some of the country’s best-known Muslim organizations, but the past decade has driven home how unsettled the relationship remains between his faith and his country. And few places are more emblematic of that tension than the library of the Herndon think tank where he works.
More than nine years ago, federal agents looking for evidence of terrorism financing hustled Unus, the institute’s director of administration, and his colleagues into this very library. They were kept there for hours while computers and boxes of documents were carted out.

At almost the same time, 14 agents and police officers broke through the front door of Unus’s house with a battering ram and handcuffed his wife and daughter — a raid that sparked an unsuccessful civil rights lawsuit that the Unuses pursued all the way to the Supreme Court.

Neither Unus nor any other institute leaders has ever been charged in the government’s probe of a network of Herndon-based Muslim charities, businesses and organizations. But neither have they been formally cleared.

Police in Terror Plot Meeting with Muslim Community

24 December 2010

Police have met Muslims at a Cardiff mosque to discuss the arrests of five men in the city suspected of terrorism offences. Properties across Cardiff have been searched by officers after dawn raids on Monday, when 12 arrests were made in total across the UK.

Police met community leaders at the Jalalia Mosque and Islamic Education Centre in Riverside, Cardiff, on Friday. Saleem Kidwai, of the Muslim Council of Wales, welcomed the visit, and said: “The chief inspector came in the mosque and talked to the community just to reassure them that we are all in this together and we have to deal with this together,” he said.