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20th Aug 2022

G5 to launch common data bank on terrorism activity

One year after the 11 March bombings in Spain, the interior ministers of the five most populous EU states have decided to launch a joint terrorist alert system, based in Granada, Spain, it was announced on Tuesday (15 March).

According to press reports, Spain, Germany, France, the UK and Italy have also agreed to create a common data bank of information on anyone suspected of having a connection to terrorist organisations, in a bid to overcome domestic legal obstacles.

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Under the agreed "principle of availability", national police forces would also be able to exchange fingerprints, DNA and licence-plate data and information concerning ongoing police operations.

Reports on thefts of firearms and nuclear, chemical or biological explosives would circulate through a "rapid-alert system", in real time.

The G-5 also adopted a joint declaration on terrorism, which stresses the "clear distinction" between Islam and terrorism.

The G-5 group was founded in May 2003, in a ministerial summit in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, with a goal to increase cooperation in security matters between the five countries.

Deportation of suspects

Gathering for a two-day summit in Granada, the group held informal discussions over a legal mechanism which would allow member states to deport "terrorism suspects", if they were unable to gather enough evidence for prosecution.

According to La Vanguardia, Spain supports this measure, as long as there are no indications that the person would be executed or subject to torture in his/her country of origin.

The Spanish minister Jose Antonio Alonso proposed a definition of a "terrorism suspect" as any individual to whom there exists "rational indications" of contact with terrorist groups. The minister claimed the measure has "stable judicial foundations".

This proposal is in line with the deportation of a number of Muslim clerics by French authorities last year and a new anti-terror bill passed on Friday (11 March) in the UK.

The German Interior Minister Otto Schily also has plans to extend existing anti-terror bills (deemed to expire in 2007) as well as to amend the German Constitution to allow Germany's navy to neutralise a terrorist attack from the sea.

A law that allows the government to shoot down a civilian airplane if hijacked by terrorists with plans to crash it into a building is already in force.

Muslim outrage

The summit, which took place in the Alhambra complex (a world heritage muslim palace dating back to the ninth century) enraged the local muslim community.

Using the palace for this summit is "an offence to Islam", said a local religious leader yesterday (14 March), according to the Spanish press. Tempers cooled today when the religious leaders realised that the meeting was not in the historic building, but in front of it.

The complex was subject to a high profile security operation, which involved over 500 police agents.

Granada was the last bastion of muslim forces in the Iberian Peninsula until the 15th century, when it was conquered by the Christian kings.

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