Over 5,000 EU citizens are known to have left Europe to fight for terrorist organisations in Iraq and Syria where they kill and many return to their home countries in the EU intent on bringing that terror to EU soil, Mairead McGuinness MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament said, following a debate in Strasbourg today (Wednesday).
“The radicalisation of EU citizens poses a real security threat. We need to understand why this is happening and how we can prevent it and we need to do this as a matter of great urgency.
“Today, I supported the Parliament’s recommendations on an EU strategy to prevent the radicalisation and recruitment of EU citizens.
“One measure would involve an EU-wide communications campaign highlighting cases of former European ‘foreign fighters’who have successfully undergone deradicalisation and whose traumatic experiences help expose the brainwashing methods used to hide the true reality of joining terrorist organisations,” McGuinness said.
“The European Parliament is calling for a harmonised approach to the definition as a criminal offence of hate speech, online and offline, whereby radicals incite others to disrespect and violate fundamental rights.
“Importantly, the Parliament is urging the Commission and the competent agencies to look into ways of dismantling terrorist networks and identifying how terrorist groups are funded, so the authorities are better able to intercept the funding behind these terrorist groups,” she added.
“The Parliament recognises that action is needed several areas, including the exchange of information on terrorist radicalisation in Europe, in particular finalising the EU Directive on Passenger Name Records (PNR) by the end of the year.
“Exchange of information between law enforcement authorities in and between member states is vital,” she continued.
The Parliament has also pointed to the need for strengthened deterrents against terrorist radicalisation and for increased effectiveness of external border controls with regard to exit and return checks and the freezing of financial assets, in the context of preventing people from taking part in terrorist activities in conflict areas in third countries.
“The recent terrorist attacks in Paris has heightened security concerns across the EU and focused efforts on targeting radicalisation in the EU,” McGuinness added.