Paris: Two French girls, aged 15 and 17, have been captured by a security net that authorities are using to ferret out citizens who are considering travelling to other countries to join jihads.
The action is one example of how France is taking judicial action against citizens suspected of seeking careers as foreign fighters, even if they have yet to leave French soil.
Thousands of European citizens have made the trip to Syrian battlegrounds, but there is no unified plan of action in Europe.
France is leading the way in Europe in the battle against this problem, and its sweep could get even wider with a planned law that would allow passports to be confiscated from those suspected of planning to fight in Syria or Iraq, and would create new measures to prosecute jihadi wannabes or returnees.
France also is planning to join other European countries in blocking Internet sites that espouse the jihadi cause.
All of Europe is worried about the return of battle -hardened citizens looking to continue their jihad in their homeland.
The concern has grown acute with the beheading of American journalist James Foley by an executioner with an English accent.
The group calling itself the Islamic State now regarded by Western authorities as the most brutal among jihadi organizations claimed responsibility this week by posting a video of the slaying on the Internet.
France also points to the suspected killer of four people at the Jewish Museum in Brussels in May, Frenchman Mehdi Nemmouche, who fought in Syria, as evidence of the need to prevent potential catastrophes.
"Must I wait for a new Mehdi Nemmouche to fire before I act?" Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in a recent interview with the online publication Mediapart. He was referring to the tough new measures to be debated this fall and contending they will not compromise civil liberties. France, with a Muslim population estimated at 5 million" the largest in Western Europe is particularly concerned about the flight of youths to the battlefields.
French authorities say there are some 900 people from France who have been implicated in jihad meaning they have taken part in one, plan to join one, or are returning from one. Several dozen have been killed.
Such measures would put France ahead of other countries in its effort to stop the problem, which some experts see as getting worse.
"It is impossible to quantify the risk of terrorist attacks by returning foreign fighters," Nigel Inkster, a former counter-terrorism chief for Britain`s M16 spy agency, wrote on his blog today for the International Institute of Strategic Studies.
But he said those returning from Syria and Iraq "are likely to be better trained and motivated and more battle-hardened" than those who trained in Pakistan`s tribal areas over the past decade.
Britain has struggled to deal with home-grown jihadis since four British men inspired by al-Qaida blew themselves up on the London transit system in 2005, killing 52 people. An estimated 400-500 Britons have fought in Syria, scores of whom have returned home. Police have arrested 69 people this year regarding suspected Syria-related terrorist offences, compared to 25 in all of 2013.
The girls are among some 60 people being investigated in France for criminal association in relation with a terrorist enterprise.