France steps up security following Paris terror attacks
Fight against terrorism/handling of the terrorist attacks of 7-9 January 2015 – Communiqué issued following the Council of Ministers’ meeting (excerpts)
Paris, 14 January 2015
The Minister of the Interior, the Minister of Defence and the Keeper of the Seals, Minister of Justice, made a statement on the handling of the terrorist attacks of 7-9 January 2015.
Paris terrorist attacks/police’s role/public response
The goal of the attacks, which claimed the lives of 17 innocent people, was to strike at the symbols of our democracy. By targeting journalists, police and French Jews – known or anonymous, with their diverse origins, opinions and faiths – they wanted to attack the whole national community.
The government respects the grief of the victims’ families and close friends. It salutes the brave and decisive work of the security forces, who intervened to prevent the terrorists causing harm. It pays tribute – as does the whole world – to the passion of the millions of citizens who rose up in unity and dignity to reject barbarism, shun fear and affirm the unfailing strength of our national motto.
Security response/armed forces’ role
In the face of the emergency, the French President decided to reinforce the public security forces by deploying 10,000 soldiers on national soil to ensure the security of “sensitive sites” throughout the country.
This mission to protect is part of the operational contract set for the armed forces by the 2013 White Paper, which guarantees the proper implementation of the military estimates act.
This unprecedented engagement on national soil has led to the number of service personnel engaged in Vigipirate (1) before the attacks being increased thirteenfold. This is a significant effort for our armed forces, which are also heavily deployed in external theatres of operation. The effort will be adapted to changes in the security situation.
The government must also continue and broaden its action to protect French people and combat those who seek to attack us, wherever they may be. To be effective, the response must be global: beyond our borders, where our armed forces are and will continue to be engaged alongside the international coalition, and on national territory, where phenomena of radicalization are leading to terrorism.
One of the main pillars of our action is and must continue to be intelligence. Thanks to the technical and human resources they possess, and through discussions within the national and international intelligence community, the services are constantly working to monitor individual suspects, identify threats and thwart terrorist plots.
From a military and political viewpoint, one of the purposes of using the armed forces is to halt the predatory, warlike momentum of Islamist groups. In the Sahel – where the terrorist attack on Mali’s integrity was stopped, at the Malian authorities’ request, by Operation Serval –, Operation Barkhane is continuing its action in a regionalized framework adapted to the cross-border nature of the threat. In Iraq, we are also continuing to intervene to halt the aggressive momentum of the organization Daesh [ISIL] and support Iraqi forces in the framework of a broad international coalition. We are remaining vigilant regarding the situation in Syria and in Libya.
In the longer term, France’s action is aimed at preventing hotbeds of terrorism and crisis regions from converging. This is the purpose of the cooperation work we are doing, particularly for the benefit of Lebanon and many African countries.
The combination of very significant growth in the phenomenon of Iraq-Syria networks and the progressive rise of the digital society has drastically altered the conditions in which the intelligence services operate. Their capabilities will therefore be strengthened in the general framework that emerged from the 2014 reform, with the creation of the Directorate-General for Internal Security (DGSI) and the Central Territorial Intelligence Agency (SCRT).
These additional resources, dedicated to combating the terrorist threat, will focus in particular on the Internet and social networks. International intelligence cooperation will also be stepped up.
The work under way on the intelligence bill, aimed at adapting the legislation to these new challenges, is about to be completed. This will enable Parliament to examine it shortly. The bill will focus on setting the legal basis for intelligence activities, supporting them by setting clear operational rules, and organizing their internal and external monitoring.
The tipoff system set up by the Interior Ministry as part of the action plan against radicalization is being used intensively by families. Follow-up and reintegration mechanisms for people who have been radicalized will be stepped up, making greater use of the interministerial fund for crime prevention.
Detecting, monitoring and hindering the movements of foreign terrorist fighters and networks must also be a priority for the European Union. (…) While the French surveillance system, allowing people suspected of criminal activity to be monitored when they travel by plane (Passenger Name Record system), will be up and running from September 2015, it is becoming a matter of urgency for this system to be extended to European level. France will propose a constructive approach to the European Parliament, whereby the effectiveness of the instrument is compatible with a high level of protection for travellers’ personal data.
The fight against the illegal circulation of firearms must also be stepped up, through increased information exchanges and more joint police operations in Europe.
Finally, the partnership with major Internet operators is essential for creating the conditions for swiftly reporting and removing content inciting hatred and terror. The European Union is an apt framework for this partnership and a structured dialogue must be entered into swiftly within it.
For several years, prison has also been the place where common criminals become strongly radicalized, which can lead to acts of terrorism. Prison overcrowding, which the government has been struggling against since the beginning of the five-year term, complicates its task because overcrowded conditions provide a breeding ground for fundamentalist proselytizing.
The government has therefore decided, learning from the experiment conducted within Fresnes Prison, to create several wings in which inmates who are deemed radicalized will be isolated.
But to be effective, this isolation must go hand in hand with a strategy of structured intelligence shared with the Ministry of the Interior, a review of the conditions under which imams are recruited and trained, and further professional training for staff dealing with these inmates. (…)
Finally, criminal law and criminal procedure will have to change so that racist and anti-Semitic behaviour and discourse, especially on the Internet, is punished with all necessary firmness. A database of people convicted of terrorism will be created so that whenever they change address or go abroad, this is flagged up./.
(1) Under the Vigipirate Plan, the armed forces contribute to averting threats and taking preventive measures against potential terrorist action. Since 2014, there have been only two levels of alert, with the “attack” level being activated for a perceived imminent attack.