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France's €425 million plan to combat terrorism

Ben McPartland · 21 Jan 2015, 11:12

Published: 21 Jan 2015 11:12 GMT+01:00

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Two weeks after a series of shootings rocked France, the country's PM Manuel Valls announced on Wednesday a raft of 'exceptional measures' to combat the threat of terrorism in France. 
“Terrorism has struck our soil in an unprecedented way… and the threat of terrorism remains high, French citizens deserve to know the truth,” Valls told a press conference at the Elysée.
The attacks -- the worst on French soil in decades -- left 17 people dead and put Europe on high alert, with a wave of police raids, investigations and extraditions taking place across the jittery continent.
In the aftermath of the deadly shootings at Charlie Hebdo, Montrouge and the Kosher store in the east of Paris, French President Hollande and his PM Valls have repeatedly stated that the danger has not not gone away.
“We must act and act quickly, it is everyone’s responsibility, but foremost the government’s responsibility,” said Valls, who was accompanied by several government ministers.
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Later in the day, French President Francois Hollance added that the French military would cut 7,500 fewer jobs than originally planned. The government had initially announced it would cut some 26,000 military posts from 2015 to 2019.
Below are the main measures announced by Valls:
  • 2,680 jobs will be created that are "dedicated to fighting terrorism". "The number one priority, the number one requirement, is to further reinforce the human and technical resources of intelligence services," Valls said, before announcing that nearly 3,000 jobs will be created over the next three years. Out of this total, 1,400 people will be employed at the Ministry of Interior, 950 at the Ministry of Justice and 250 at the Ministry of Defence. There will also be 80 new people employed at the Ministry of Finances.
  • Of the 1,400 employed under the Ministry of Interior, 1,100 of those jobs will be created by in the field of intelligence including 500 at the DGSI, which is in charge of France's internal security. That figure also includes 100 new staff to be employed in the intelligence services of the Paris police force.
  • Overall €425 million will be invested in counter-terrorism over three years. As well as human resources we need to make financial resources available,” said Valls. The €425 million that will go on “loans, equipment and operations” will be covered by savings made elsewhere in the area of public spending, year on year,” Valls said.
  • Of that, €181 million will be invested in the Ministry of Justice and €233 million will be handed to the Interior Ministry. However the Prime Ministers office has said that when the costs of the thousands of new personnel are including the overall budget will rise from €425 million to €725 million over the three years.
  • Cyber patrols: Valls announced the creation of a website aimed at informing the wider public of the means available to fight indoctrination of jihadists. In the next three years €60 million will be specifically devoted to the prevention of radicalization, including what he referred to as cyber patrols.

    “Terrorists often use the same social networks as everyone else,” Valls said. The Prime Minister called on Internet service providers to comply with their legal obligations and reminded them of their moral responsibility.

  • 3,000 individuals need monitoring: Valls said that authorities have to monitor nearly 3,000 people involved in "terrorist networks", as he unveiled measures to combat jihadism after the Paris attacks. He said the number of people linked to networks in Iraq and Syria had jumped 130 percent in one year.
  • A new bill: A government bill will be put forward at the beginning of March to go alongside the measures announced on Wednesday. “On top of this unprecedented reinforcement of means, it is vital to strengthen the capabilities of our intelligence services to be able to react,” Valls said. 
  • Muslim prison chaplains: To fight against radicalization in prison, Valls said an extra 60 Muslim chaplains will be employed, on top of the existing 182. Two of the Paris gunmen, Amedy Coulibaly and Cherif Kouachi, are believed to have turned to radical Islam in prison where they met.

  • Radicalized inmates housed together: Another measure aimed at combating radicalization in prisons will see five new centres created where inmates, who are already radicalized, will be housed together. THis is based on a pilot scheme already in place at the Fresnes prison in France.

  • New equipment: All security forces, including municipal police, will be equipped with new bulletproof vests and more powerful arms. The intelligence services will also get new vehicles.

  • Terrorism convictions: A special file will be created to include all those individuals who have been convicted of terrorism offences in France. It will be shared by the various police forces.

  • Passenger records: A "Passenger Name Record" system for storing information on airline passengers will be operational in France by September 2015. There have been calls to set up a European wide PNR database so different countries can share information, but this is currently under discussion at the European parliament.

  • Crime of "National Disgrace": Valls said he would also propose a cross party debate on bringing back the offence of "national disgrace" -- used after World War II against collaborators with the Nazi regime and abolished in 1951. Less severe than treason, and allowing authorities to strip citizens of some rights, Valls said that reviving the offence would be a strong symbol of "the consequences of... committing a terrorist act."

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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