Monday 18 December 2017

World leaders stand firm with May over terror threat

British PM seeks to rid web of extremist chat Support from Macron at G7 talks in Sicily Italy wants meeting to address migrant crisis

Donald Trump talks to Theresa May. Photo: AP
Donald Trump talks to Theresa May. Photo: AP

Elizabeth Piper

British Prime Minister Theresa May won support from the world's major industrialised nations yesterday for measures to tackle terrorism such as pushing technology companies on internet controls and for the better tracking of militants.

At her first G7 meeting since becoming prime minister, Mrs May was keen to avoid Britain's soon-to-be-launched talks to leave the European Union and focused instead on the fight against terrorism, days after a suicide bomber killed 22 people at a pop concert in Manchester, the worst attack on Britain since 2005.

Mrs May, who on Thursday raised concerns over intelligence leaks in the United States, met President Donald Trump between sessions at the G7, which host Italy hoped would concentrate minds on Europe's migrant crisis.

A spokesperson for Mrs May said she and Mr Trump reaffirmed their commitment to a post-Brexit trade deal, and agreed the G7 should do more to tackle terrorism, a view shared by other leaders at the summit in Italy.

Mrs May had called on leading powers to do more to ensure foreign fighters who travel to join Isil in Syria and Iraq are brought to justice.

Leading a session on counter-terrorism at the G7 summit in Taormina, Sicily, the prime minister said they needed to be prepared to share their expertise with the countries the fighters travel to and fight in.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: AFP/Getty
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May, US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: AFP/Getty

A senior British government source said she has made the point that it was important to ensure those countries had the legal means to prosecute, deport or extradite suspects as appropriate.

Mrs May warned that as the fighters returned to their home countries, they posed a new terrorist threat.

She called on the G7 members to provide legal and policing support to countries such as Iraq, to help them prosecute any foreign fighters they capture.

French President Emmanuel Macron was the first leader to offer to help Mrs May marshal support, drawing on his own country's experience of several jihadist attacks that have killed more than 230 people since 2015.

France’s Emmanuel Macron. Photo: Reuters
France’s Emmanuel Macron. Photo: Reuters

"We know this kind of attack," the newly elected president of France told Mrs May at the San Domenico Palace Hotel, a former monastery in Taormina, Sicily.

"We will ... do everything we can in order to increase this co-operation at the European level, in order to do more from a bilateral point of view against terrorism. We will do that during the whole day, because that's the common challenge."

Mrs May also told one session at the G7 that countries should work with Britain on a series of steps to allow foreign fighters to be detained and brought to justice close to the countries where they had been operating.

The Manchester suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old British-born man with Libyan parents, is suspected by the police and security services to have been working with a network of people who were inspired by extreme Islamist ideology.

They are also investigating his movements, aware that he had visited Libya, where some of his family live.

"It is vital we do more to co-operate with our partners in the region to step up returns and prosecutions of foreign fighters," Mrs May said.

"This means improving intelligence-sharing, evidence-gathering and bolstering countries' police and legal processes."

But in the background, Britain's vote to leave the European Union lingered. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he had described it in a meeting on Thursday with Mr Trump as "a real tragedy".

Brexit has raised fears about future security co-operation with the bloc, with both sides drawing up the battle lines for at least two years of talks that could quickly sour.

A French source said France and Britain had agreed to maintain close economic, security and diplomatic ties, despite Brexit.

Mrs May again underlined the need for co-operation, telling the leaders of the United States, Japan, France, Italy, Germany and Canada that technology companies should be encouraged to develop better tools that can automatically identify and remove harmful material and block users who post extremist content. Mrs May, herself a former interior minister, reiterated that companies should "tell the authorities when they identify harmful material so action can be taken".

"Make no mistake: the fight is moving from the battlefield to the internet," she said.

"In the UK, we are already working with social media companies to halt the spread of extremist material and hateful propaganda that is warping young minds. But I am clear that corporations can do more."

This would include sharing the identities of foreign fighters who may try to pass through third countries on the way back home.

Irish Independent

Promoted Links

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Promoted Links

Editors Choice

Also in World News