Paris: A new anti-terrorism bill unveiled by France`s government on Thursday would expand already tough laws and seek to deter people from traveling abroad to train at terror camps, and is designed to prevent a repeat of an attack during which a French Islamist killed seven people.
In March, a young French radical Mohamed Merah killed three Jewish children, a rabbi and three paratroopers over eight days before he died in a standoff with police. Merah claimed links to al Qaeda and said he had received training at an Islamist paramilitary camp in Pakistan.
The bill would give new power to France`s already-strong legal arsenal to fight terrorism by allowing authorities to bring to justice anyone who attends foreign training camps, even before they can strike at home.
This measure "will let us pursue people who are going to terrorism training camps abroad, even if they haven`t committed any crimes on French soil," government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said.
Current law only allows prosecution of French nationals if crimes that they commit abroad are penalized in the same way as in France, and if foreign authorities point out the crimes by French people, though exceptions exist in cases like sexual tourism or mercenary activity.
President Francois Hollande told ministers he hopes that parliament will take up the bill before year-end, Vallaud-Belkacem said.
Former President Nicolas Sarkozy`s conservative government floated a similar proposal earlier this year. It never went through because parliament`s session was suspended for elections -- won by Hollande and his Socialists.