After terror attacks, EU leaders under pressure over migrant policy

CCTV News

Woman stand in front of memorial

In Germany, Angela Merkel is facing growing calls to change her refugee policy after a series of attacks. Right wing opponents are calling for much harsher measures.

CCTV’s Elena Casas reports. Follow Elena Casas on Twitter @ElenaMontanez

EU leaders under pressure over migrant policies after terror attacks

EU leaders under pressure over migrant policies after terror attacks

The two attackers who killed a Catholic priest at a church in Normandy were on the terrorism watch list.The French government is facing increasing pressure to change its policies on suspected terrorists. CCTV's Elena Casas reports.

The two attackers who killed a Catholic priest at a church in Normandy were on the terrorism watch list.The French government is facing increasing pressure to change its policies on suspected terrorists.

Hundreds of people, of all faiths and none, came to Notre Dame Cathedral to pay tribute to the life of Father Jacques Hamel who has been brutally murdered in his own church on Tuesday by two teenagers claiming they were acting in the name of ISIL.

But in politics, there’s been less solidarity as opposition figures savage the government for its supposed lax action- after it turned out both attackers were already on the terrorism watch list. 

“I ask the government to implement all the proposals that we presented months ago, without delay. We cannot waste any more time,” Nicolas Sarkozy, the leader of the Republican Party said. Sarkozy wants every person on the terrorism watch list to be electronically tagged, but there are just too many of them for the already stretched police to monitor.

European officials insist they have learnt from mistakes made before the Paris attacks last November and those here in Brussels in March, and improved intelligence gathering and sharing. But there are over 10,000 people on the terrorism watch list in France alone of whom about 6,000 have returned from Syria and Iraq, meaning deciding who is dangerous enough to be watched around the clock often comes down to informed guesswork.

One of the Normandy church killers had twice tried to travel to Syria, but he was released from prison in March on probation after convincing a judge he regretted it. 

Experts said it’s hard to prove where suspects have been in the Middle East, or what they’ve done there.

“Most of the time the only evidence we have is digital evidence, these guys were very narcissistic at the beginning of all this, putting pictures of themselves on Facebook, but now they’re a bit more cautious. So digital evidence is critical, and that presents a challenge for us, because most of the time it’s stored in a cloud somewhere in California,” Gilles de Kerchove, European Union counter-terrorism coordinator said.

Not only the French government under pressure to change tack. Politicians on the German right have blamed Angela Merkel’s refugee policy for a spate of four attacks there in a week, three of them carried out by refugees. 

“Today I am just as convinced as I was last year that we can manage to cope with this historical test. We can manage it, and we have already done a lot in the past 11 months” Merkel said.

Germany remains on edge though anti-terror squads searched a mosque and eight apartments near Hanover on Thursday. 

Back in a France in mourning once again, much of the media has decided to stop publishing photos of terror suspects and some will no longer even use their names in a bid to deny the killers the fame they seek.