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Germany plans tougher anti-terror measures

world Updated: Sep 18, 2007 23:02 IST

Germany plans to increase jail terms for people convicted of planning terrorist attacks, but has stopped short of making it illegal to attend militant training camps abroad, the Justice Ministry said on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, security services said they foiled "massive bomb attacks" against US installations in Germany and arrested three men who had trained at camps in Pakistan.

Those who help plan attacks or are members of what authorities describe as terrorist groups currently face up to five years in jail.

The new measures propose a maximum 10-year jail sentence but will only be enforced if authorities prove suspects "have a clear desire to carry out an attack", Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries said.

She pointed to a section in the draft bill which says that "People who merely gain skills without the intention to commit an act of terrorist violence, will remain unpunished".

Zypries said that no-one who went to a militant camp and was trained to use weapons would be punished unless there was evidence of a plot. People who use the internet to plan attacks could face up to three years in jail, according to the new measures, provided a plot is identified.

"We don't want to criminalise every person who wants to look at religious websites," Zypries said.

Some German officials have called for greater powers to monitor computers online in order to identify suspects.

The measures also apply to far-right militants who plan racist attacks, or to those who learn how to fly an aircraft in order to hijack it, like the Hamburg-based group which carried out the 2001 attacks in the United States.