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Media watchdog urges Jordan king to reform anti-terror law
by Staff Writers
Amman (AFP) June 16, 2014


Dutch fear new European jihadi wave after ISIL success
The Hague (AFP) June 16, 2014 - Recent military successes by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) will encourage a new wave of European jihadist fighters to join the conflict, the Dutch government said Monday.

"I'm concerned that ISIL has become an important group to join for jihadist fighters from the Netherlands and Europe," said Dick Schoof, who heads the Dutch government's anti-terror agency NCTV.

He was referring to the stunning success of a recent offensive by Islamist militants from ISIS across Sunni areas of northern Iraq that has left Iraqi army forces in disarray.

"The success of ISIL will no doubt give a new impulse to travel there," Schoof told Dutch state broadcaster NOS.

The Dutch anti-terror tsar was speaking after Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans sent a letter to parliament on Monday in which he said "many of the Dutch jihadist fighters (in Syria) have joined up with ISIL."

More than 100 young Dutch citizens have so far travelled to Syria, which neighbours Iraq, to fight against President Bashar al-Assad's forces in the three-year conflict in which more than 162,000 people have died, according to NGO estimates.

At least 10 Dutch fighters have been killed in Syria so far, and they have carried out at least one suicide attack in Syria and one in Iraq, Dutch officials have said.

The European Union warned earlier this year that the number of young European Muslims going to fight alongside extremist groups in Syria and countries such as Somalia and Sudan was growing fast.

The fear is they will return home radicalised and well versed in the use of weapons and guerrilla tactics, posing a security risk.

Dutch police last month arrested a 21-year-old man who fought in Syria as he was allegedly about to commit a heist to finance fighting in Syria.

The Dutch authorities have said they will confiscate the passports of citizens they believe are wanting to go to the Middle East to fight.

Last week, the Dutch government said students opting to go to Syria would also forfeit their grants, as the government seeks to prevent Dutch citizens from travelling to Syria.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on Monday urged Jordan's King Abdullah II to reform the country's "repressive" anti-terrorism law, saying recent amendments to the legislation are "disturbing."

The amendments, approved in April, criminalise "the use of information technology, the Internet or any means of publication or media, or the creation of a website, to facilitate terrorist acts or back groups that promote, support or fund terrorism."

RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said in his letter to the king on Monday that the changes were phrased in a "general manner that leaves the judicial authorities a great deal of discretionary power, with a resulting danger of arbitrary decisions".

He warned some articles could hinder the work of "news providers" and result in their arrest or imprisonment.

"There is a danger that the Jordanian authorities will use the fight against terrorism to gag civil society organisations and news media," Deloire said.

"The amendments... constitute a disturbing reinforcement of the already repressive legislative arsenal," the letter said.

Jordan passed its first anti-terrorism law in 2006, the year after three bombings targeting hotels in the capital killed 60 people.

MPs, opposition Islamists, journalists and rights activists have criticised the amendments, saying they restrict freedoms.

The changes also outlaw "acts that would expose Jordan or Jordanians to the danger of acts of aggression, or harm the kingdom's relations with another country."

Last week, Jordanian military prosecutors accused 14 Jordanian, Syrian and Iraqi journalists of terrorism after closing the Amman-based Al-Abasiya television channel where they worked.

The station was critical of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

They were charged with "using the Internet to carry out acts that would expose Jordanians to acts of aggression",

The journalists face up to five years in prison if convicted of the charges, filed under the kingdom's anti-terrorism laws, and RSF has demanded their immediate release.

Jordan ranked 141st and Iraq 153rd on the 2014 RSF Press Freedom Index.

"We think it is essential that these provisions should be rendered more specific," Deloire added.

Failing that, Deloire said "they should be repealed altogether and a debate on the anti-terrorism law should be resumed in the light of these observations."

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