EU countries want terror lists
Nine EU countries led by France and Belgium called Thursday to list the personal information of airline passengers as part of efforts to curb terrorism and prevent young people going to conflict zones.
"One of the most useful tools to trace such people, when they go to Syria or elsewhere and when they come back, would be a PNR (Passenger Name Record) system," French Interior Minister Manuel Valls and his Belgian counterpart Joelle Milquet said in a statement.
Britain, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland and Sweden also support the move, they said.
Such a PNR system would "allow the authorities to follow the movements of such people to identify those, often young and vulnerable, who might risk their lives by going to conflict zones," they said.
At the same time, it could help prevent "acts of terror in Europe or certain serious crimes," they added.
France and Belgium have seen many young "European jihadists" fight in conflict zones such as Syria, sparking fears they could return home both radicalised and with military training and experience.
"Not all these people are jihadists or terrorists but we have enough grounds to have our concerns," Valls said.
The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, proposed compiling airline passenger information to help curb terror attacks in 2011 but the European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee voted it down in April.
Valls and Milquet said there would have to be discussions with parliament to ensure that any PNR system offered full privacy protection as required by EU law.
In May, Islamic authorities in Belgium issued a statement trying to deter young men from going to fight in Syria, saying the Koran provided no justification.
A report earlier this year by King's College London said up to 600 people from 14 European countries, including Austria, Britain, Germany, Spain and Sweden had taken part in the Syria conflict since it began in March 2011.
© 2013 AFP