​Belgium to slap would-be ISIS recruits with travel bans

Reuters / Stringer
The government of Belgium has proposed a law that would allow it to ban people suspected of intending to join jihadist groups in the Middle East from leaving the country. Some 300 people are estimated to have done so to date.

If approved by the parliament, the law would allow the government to invalidate passports and ID cards of suspected jihadist recruits, effectively grounding them.

"The new law allows us to make leaving Belgian territory with the intention of engaging in terrorist acts a criminal offence," Justice Minister Koen Geens said, as the proposal was unveiled on Friday.

Other European countries, including the UK and Denmark, are contemplating similar measures.

As part of the counterterrorism measures, the Belgian government also wants to give judges the right to warrant wiretapping of the phones of suspected terrorist sympathizers wishing to join them.

Europe has become a major recruiting ground for the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), an extremist group trying to establish a Sunni state ruled by strict interpretations of Sharia law in Iraq and Syria. The group’s successes on the ground are accompanied by a massive propaganda effort on the internet aimed at promoting their cause and drawing in recruits.

Most European citizens trying to join IS travel to Syria through Turkey.