EU’s new ‘Directive on Terrorism’ aims to criminalise preparatory acts

Arms smuggling

Shipment of imitation guns to Gaza strip exposed by the Israeli customs. 15 January, 2008. [Shutterstock]

The European Commission adopted on Wednesday (2 December) a package of measures to combat terrorism and arms trafficking, including criminalising travel “for terrorist purposes”.

The Commission said in a statement that the package includes a “Directive on Terrorism” aimed at strengthening the “EU’s arsenal in preventing terrorist attacks by criminalising preparatory acts such as training and travel abroad for terrorist purposes”.

These “preparatory acts” include travel, the funding, organisation and facilitation of that travel, training and providing funds to commit terrorist acts.

“The increase in the number of EU citizens travelling abroad to become ‘foreign fighters’ means that an update of the EU framework on terrorist offences is needed to ensure a common criminal justice response,” said the executive’s Vice-President Frans Timmermans.

Thousands of people have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State group, and countries are trying to beef up security measures to prevent attacks like the ones in Paris, in which 130 people were killed by jihadists wielding Kalashnikov assault rifles and explosives.

Along with the Directive is an “Action Plan” against the trafficking of firearms which includes “restricting access to illegal firearms and explosives” as well as “stronger cooperation with third countries” outside of the EU.

On 18 November,  the Commission adopted measures to tighten controls on firearm purchases and possession.

“Europe needs to act together, decisively and swiftly, to crack down on terrorism and improve our security,” the European Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos said.

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