- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 23, 2001

PARIS In France, police can detain people on a mere suspicion, hold them for up to four days and, if charged, send them to a terrorism court with no jury.
In Spain, authorities can shut down newspapers and jail editors if they feel the publications defend Basque terrorists. In Britain, authorities can charge someone for wearing a T-shirt promoting an outlawed group.
These methods may seem draconian by U.S. standards but experts say even that isn't enough to track a new kind of cross-border terror.
Terrorism today "is more like an invisible gas coming out of the cracks in the ground," said Paul Wilkinson, director of the Center for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence at University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
"To identify that and find ways of destroying the origin of this poison, you require a subtle but carefully honed intelligence battle and a good legal framework," he said.
Terrorism laws in France, Britain, Spain, Germany, Italy and Portugal enacted mainly in response to attacks by homegrown terrorists are vastly different in each country, but all tread on territory deemed sacred in the United States.
France has convicted more than 200 people in dozens of trials since a series of deadly bombings in 1995 by the radical Algerian insurgents of the Armed Islamic Group, or GIA.
A 1986 French law created a new section in the state prosecutor's office devoted to terrorism cases. The section includes special judges to investigate, special prosecutors and special no-jury courts to try suspected terrorists.
A unique charge criminal association with a terrorist enterprise allows police to detain suspects without firm evidence and hold them for up to four days and four nights.
"We can go after people who furnish logistics, arms, lodging, travel without proving that they themselves will take part in an attack," said an official in the anti-terrorism office who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Britain was long criticized as a haven for groups regarded in their homelands as terrorist organizations.
That has changed. The Terrorism Act of 2000 boldly expands a 1974 law passed after the Irish Republican Army killed 21 persons in pub bombings in Birmingham, England. The new law bans 21 radical groups including Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda.
The law also broadens the definition of terrorism to include religious or ideologically motivated violence and acts. Significantly, it reaches beyond Britain's borders to allow for prosecution of those involved in activities abroad.
Speaking at meetings of a banned group or even wearing a T-shirt promoting an outlawed organization is forbidden.
In Spain, where some 800 people have been killed during the past 33 years by Basque separatist organization ETA, it is a crime to justify violence by the group. Newspapers and magazines thought by the government to violate that law have been shut down and their editors jailed.
Terrorism suspects in Spain can be held for questioning for up to five days.
In Germany, founding, joining or supporting a terrorist group was made criminal in 1976, a response to attacks by the extreme left Red Army Faction. The law bans public displays from banners to spray-painted slogans that support terrorists.
In an exceptional move, the city of Hamburg, where three of the hijackers suspected in the U.S. attacks lived, has begun profiling suspects with the help of computers as well as private and public records.
Despite the efforts, Europe has not been immune to attacks over the past decade. A 1996 bombing in the Paris subway killed three persons. Britain has suffered dozens of attacks, including four bombings in the London area this year.
While Europeans have excelled in the kind of "human intelligence" that critics say is missing in the United States, they are hampered by a lack of coordination. Sometimes, they compete over, rather than share intelligence.
France is powerless to go after a suspect in the Algerian operation because Britain refuses to extradite him.
Since the Sept. 11 attacks, however, the European Union is moving faster to create a common arrest warrant and step up extradition procedures across the 15-nation block.
The United States also is considering changes.
In Washington on Friday, U.S. lawmakers introduced two anti-terrorism bills that would make it easier for investigators to wiretap suspected terrorists and require government agencies to share information.
A senior Bush administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said President Bush would soon sign an executive order naming specific terrorists and terrorist organizations around the world and freezing their U.S. assets.
"I think the experience of Britain and other European countries is useful," said Mr. Wilkinson of the University of St. Andrews. "Americans can look at what they have had to contend with and adapt some of the lessons learned in dealing with terrorism for 30 years in Europe."

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