Returning ISIL fighters show need for European system of PNR

23-Oct-2014 @ 11:15

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The problem of radicalised Muslims returning to Europe after fighting alongside "Islamic State" throws into sharp focus the need to rethink Europe's approach to sharing air-passenger data with security services, MEPs heard today.

Timothy Kirkhope MEP, Conservative spokesman on Justice and Home Affairs in the European Parliament, told a debate in Strasbourg that a decision to delay a Europe-wide system of access to passenger  name records (PNR) had been a grave mistake.

The MEP for Yorkshire, a former Home Office Minister, warned: "European citizens are travelling to Syria. They are being radicalised then trained with the possiblemotive of one day returning to our cities and to our streets to harm and kill us.

"They want to replace a Europe of freedom and peace with one of fear and destruction. They may call themselves the Islamic State, but they do not represent the Muslim faith. They are criminals and terrorists and I believe that we should refer to them as such.

"There is no place for this in Europe. We have dealt with such behaviour before and we will do so again by addressing the problems at the source. But words, condemnation and education are not enough.

Leaders of the European Council, the UN Security Council and the airlines all want an EU Passenger Name Records agreement in order for law enforcement authorities to capture EU foreign fighters and address the chaotic information exchange system they currently face. The patchwork of 14 different member states' PNR systems which we have now not only leaves gaps in security for terrorists to exploit, but also leaves gaps in our data protection for travellers.

"I urge Members to look at this agreement again. We must never compromise Europe's hard-fought civil liberties...Freedom must never be sacrificed. But it is also our primary duty as politicians to protect those that have elected us, and to deal with and bring to justice to those who seek to do us harm."

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