Tackling Terrorism in France: Legislation and Enforcement 

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France is a key player in the global fight against terrorism. France is also a longstanding and important member of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. The terrorist threat in France remained elevated. Security services were affected by lone-actor attacks carried out by individuals already in France, including those motivated by or affiliated with ISIS. French officials also were upset by right-wing extremists being able to initiate cells and organize attacks. 

The government embraced new laws to enhance the government’s ability to contain what it described as Islamist separatism, and to create permanent some of the security standards temporarily imposed under the State of Emergency following the 2015 terrorist aggression. French law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted at least five attacks in 2021 and apprehended at least 50 individuals, including 19 connected to REMVE actors.

In August 2021, France adopted the ordinance “Upholding Respect for Principles of the Republic,” also comprehended as the “Anti-Separatism” law, to handle concerns that radical Islamists had formed parallel societies that brainwashed members with ideas contrary to the worths of the French Republic.  

France embraced the Counterterrorism and Intelligence Law in July 2021, which expands the terrorism prevention mechanisms available to security agencies and creates some of the temporary measures charged by the 2015 State of Emergency, including search and seizures, the usage of algorithms to analyze internet browsing data, home visits for presumed terrorist or radicalized individuals, and closures of “suspicious” religious sites found to encourage radicalism or terrorist ideology. The Counter Terrorism and Intelligence Law also permits the government to impose further “administrative” measures for up to five years on certain convicted terrorists following their prison discharge.  An estimated 59 terrorist inmates finished their prison sentences and were released in 2021.

France has strong law enforcement and intelligence services that catch, deter, and prevent acts of terrorism in its domain. The Internal Security General Directorate is the lead agency for the fighting against terrorism and violent extremism, conforming with all other relevant intelligence and law enforcement services.

The armed forces persisted in Operation Sentinel, a domestic deployment of up to 7,000 soldiers who improve security at sensitive sites and large occasions throughout the country.  France has a completely operational interministerial API/PNR ability to screen arriving and passenger data against other police and executive databases.

France preserved its longstanding policy against the repatriation of French FTFs, repatriating insignificant children of FTFs on case-by-case grounds. As of December, France had returned a total of 35 minors — with the last operation performed in January 2021. An estimated 300 French FTFs and their household members have returned to France by a 2014 French-Turkish agreement whereby Türkiye corresponds with France to deport French nationals thought to have entered Türkiye from Syria. All adult FTFs returning to France have been systematically charged since 2016.  

Youngsters, depending on their age, may face lawful action if they are suspected of having partaken in terrorist activities. Minors not believed to have partaken in terrorist activities are registered in an extensive rehabilitation and reintegration program.

France also marked a rise in what it calls “far-right extremism” or “politically inspired terrorism.” There were at least five far-right terrorist actions that French services prevented since 2017. The National Antiterrorism Prosecutor’s office scrutinized at least six far-right terrorist matters that involved 55 individuals. The neo-Nazi grouping Honor and Nation reportedly targeted state officials, a Freemason lodge, and COVID-19 vaccination camps and called for a coup d’état under the supervision of Rémy Daillet.  In August 2021, a far-right man was charged in Colmar for simulating four pipe bombs with pieces of uranium purchased online. Further, the far-right group Recolonization France was captured throughout France following the police finding of a weapons cache and multiple neo-Nazi things. 

France is a also founding member of the GCTF and is involved in the UN Security Council ISIL and al-Qa’ida Sanctions Committee. Further, France launched joint CT operations with several EU partners and recreated an active role in CT capability building in West Africa’s Sahel area with the Coalition for the Sahel and Task Force Takuba. The country is a major contributor to the Defeat-ISIS Coalition and is a member of the Foreign Terrorist Fighter, Counter-ISIS Finance, Stabilization, and Communications Working Groups.

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