France is moving to stop its residents from traveling to Syria to join militant opponents of President Bashar Assad’s regime, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The country was poised on Wednesday to enact “all kinds of measures to dissuade, to stop, to punish those who would be tempted to go fighting in places where they have no place,” French President Francois Hollande said. Government personnel said more than 500 people have traveled from France to Syria, spurring fears that they could receive preparations in the conflict-torn state to conduct strikes in Europe.
The anticipated steps would include keeping tabs on Internet efforts by Islamic extremists to draft volunteers for the Syrian civil war from inside France. Militants operate websites to find French sympathizers, and then make arrangements for inductees to enter Syria through neighboring nations, such as Turkey.
The French government campaign would pursue cooperation with relatives of younger people thought to be developing radical views, according to the Journal. In addition, French authorities are intensifying efforts to crack down on individuals who have returned from combat in Syria, the newspaper reported.
The FBI in Washington similarly has been tracking U.S. residents who have returned from rebel activities in Syria and might become terrorist risks at home.
The number of Europeans traveling to join the Syrian war increased more than two-fold last year, and the conflict is now equipping 2,000 to 3,000 Westerners with experience in fighting and bomb-making, experts said in a Tuesday article by the Christian Science Monitor.
A high-level French antiterrorism insider said the potential threat has “now gone into another dimension, different from anything most countries have seen before.” The source said the possible dangers from Syria outsize equivalent threats from Iraq, Yemen and “in many ways … Afghanistan.”
“The risks are already big, and they’ll just keep growing as the Syrian war continues,” the official said.
What We're Following See More »
The National Infrastructure Advisory Council has warned "that the U.S. in not ready to cope with a catastrophic attack aimed at the U.S. power grid, communications systems and other critical infrastructure." The panel "voted up a report recommending that the U.S. establish separate communications networks to support critical systems and take steps to rapidly declassify cybersecurity threat information." According to council member Mike Wallace, the country is "in a pre-9/11 moment" with respect to its vulnerabilities.
Vice President Pence and other speakers in Phoenix Tuesday night appealed "for unity and healing." President Trump himself said his movement "is about love." But then he became animated and angry as he revisited his comments about Charlottesville, reading them aloud. "You know where my heart is. I’m only doing this to show you how damned dishonest these people are,” he said. He also suggested he still intends to pardon controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
"Two North Korean shipments to a Syrian government agency responsible for the country's chemical weapons program were intercepted in the past six months, according to a confidential United Nations report on North Korea sanctions violations."