France Revamps Anti-Terror Intelligence System

(Bloomberg) -- France is revamping its anti-terrorism organizations by creating a single operational team to oversee all of the country’s intelligence and prosecution to counter terror threats and plots on its soil, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said.

“We must give new possibilities to our action,” Philippe said in a press conference at the headquarters of France’s domestic intelligence service DGSI in Levallois-Perret near Paris. “The Islamist-inspired threat remains particularly high.”

France’s investigative police, financial investigators, domestic intelligence, and prison service will all report daily to the unit that will be overseen and commanded by DGSI chiefs. The group will be up and running during the summer. The government is also creating a dedicated anti-terrorism prosecutor’s office and adding 1,900 agents by 2022, Philippe said.

French security forces have foiled 25 attacks since January 2017 but the government is particularly concerned by the release of 450 prisoners from French jails this year who have showed signs of radicalization, including 50 who have been sentenced for terrorism. A special team will oversee the prison exit of individuals who could pose a threat, Philippe said.

The prime minister’s office published 32 measures to fight terrorism, and Philippe added eight other measures that will remain behind-the-scenes. The measures include tighter surveillance of those under house arrest, greater coordination with the welfare system to track suspects, and expanding the role of military patrols beyond their current patrolling duties.

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