France: 254 Convicted Islamic Terrorists To Be Freed In 2022

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French Justice Minister Nicole
Belloubet has announced that 254 convicted Islamic terrorists are scheduled to
be released from various prisons in 2022 and revealed details about National
Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor’s Office (PNAT), a new national anti-terrorist
office.

According to Ms Belloubet, PNAT will
start its operations on July 1. Tracking of convicted Islamic terrorists who
have been released from prison will be one of the agency’s priority
assignments. 

She said that currently there are 510
detained individuals following convictions for Islamist terrorism and another
943 prisoners who were convicted of other offences but radicalized in prison.

The Justice Minister said that in
order to curb prison radicalization, the government has built 1,500 cells in
blocks where radicalized individuals will be assessed and 600 cells will be
added for deradicalization of extremists.

In January, Interpol’s
Secretary-General Jurgen Stock warned the pattern of prison radicalization is
becoming all too common in Europe.  

Stock referred to prisons as
“incubators” for radicalization:

“Because they were not convicted of a
concrete terrorist attack but only support for terrorist activities, their
sentences are perhaps not so heavy. This generation of early supporters will be
released in the next couple of years, and they may again be part of a terrorist
group or those supporting terrorist activities.”.

Thomas Renard, a Belgian terrorism
expert and researcher at the Egmont Royal Institute for International Relations
in Brussels said that radicalization starts out from friendships fostered in
prison:

“(They) become friends
with influential (radical) jihadis who recruit them … while still others just
seek the protection of a powerful group in prison, which can be the jihadi.”

Belloubet assured reporters that the
new PNAT is capable of battling terrorism. She explained that the group was “a
real anti-terrorist strike force” and that the organization would be
independent of the considerations of the Paris prosecutor’s office.

“The National Anti-Terrorist
Prosecutor’s Office will also deal with crimes against humanity to strengthen
action in this area,” she added.

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