(Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama will invite allies to a Feb. 18 security summit in Washington to try and prevent violent extremism, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Sunday after meeting his European counterparts in Paris.
The gathering of justice and interior chiefs came as France mourned 17 victims of Islamist gunmen this week in the worst assault on its homeland security in decades.
“We will bring together all of our allies to discuss ways in which we can counteract this violent extremism that exists around the world,” Holder told reporters.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said after the meeting that European interior ministers* had agreed to boost cooperation in an effort to thwart further jihadist attacks. [*The interior minister is similar in the U.S. to a combination of the FBI and Homeland Security]
“We all agree that we need to put in place better control on certain passengers, on the basis of objective criteria and with respect for fundamental liberties and without disrupting cross-border travel,” he said.
He said Europe needed urgent progress in establishing a European Passenger Name Record database, which would facilitate the exchange of data about passengers between European Union (EU) member states. [Britain’s Home Secretary, Theresa May, led demands for a new Europe-wide travel database to track the movement of all air, train and ferry passengers at an emergency meeting of EU interior ministers in Paris on Sunday.]
“We are convinced of the need for such a tool, to follow those who travel to terrorist operating theaters or who return from there,” he said, adding that this database would also be useful in the fight against other serious crimes.
Cazeneuve said the Internet needs to remain a space for free expression, but that Europe should fight against abusive use of the web to spread hate speech, anti-Semitic messages and the recruiting vulnerable young people for violence.
“We need to work more closely with Internet companies to guarantee the reporting and if possible removal of all content that amounts to an apology of terrorism or calls for violence and hatred,” he said.
Cazeneuve said EU interior and justice ministers planned to meet soon to discuss further action. A European source said the meeting could take place next week in Brussels.
(Reporting by Julien Ponthus, Yves Clarisse and Geert De Clercq; writing by Geert De Clercq; editing by Mark John and Anna Willard)
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NOTE: Before answering the questions, read the “Background” below.
1. Who will President Obama invite to a security summit in Washington; when will the summit take place?
2. What is the purpose of the summit?
3. What do the European interior ministers agree needs to be done to aid their governments in protecting citizens from Islamic terrorists?
4. a) What will the European Passenger Name Record database enable EU member states to do?
b) Why does French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve say this is needed?
5. Why/how do the ministers want to work with Internet companies?
6. a) European officials have been saying for a long time that they have been worried about citizens who go to fight with terrorists and then return home. Why do you think they have waited until now to try to monitor these terrorists?
b) What steps do you think governments should take (including the U.S.) with citizens and people residing in our countries legally who travel to fight with terrorists? [Officials say they get ‘radicalized’ when they travel to these places – however, they are probably already radicalized when they choose to leave their home/family/job/school to train/fight with terrorists.]
7. Do you think this security summit will help to make us more secure in the U.S.? Explain your answer.
HOW FRANCE’S GOVERNMENT VIEWS THE ATTACKS BY ISLAMIC TERRORISTS:
Appearing on Saturday in Evry, a town just south of Paris, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said the country is at war against radical Islam.
“We are at war — not a war against a religion, not a war against a civilization, but to defend our values, which are universal,” he proclaimed.
“It is a war against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islam, against everything that is aimed at breaking fraternity, freedom, solidarity,” Valls continued.
“We cannot let pass a single one of these messages, or a single one of these acts. Our indignation must be clear, total and last longer than three days. It must be permanent.
“We need standards, values and authority. There must be a firm message about the values of the republic and secularism.
“Journalists were killed because they defended freedom. Policemen were killed because they were protecting you,” he said, and “Jews were killed because they were Jewish.”
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