France is more at risk of an Islamic State group attack than ever, prosecutor Francois Molins told Le Monde recently, so it's ramping up its penalties for people involved with terrorists.
Speaking less than two months after the Nice killings and 10 months after the Paris massacre, anti-terrorism expert Molins outlined his reasoning to the French media outlet.
"Paradoxically, the weakening of the Islamic State in the Iraqi-Syrian area is a factor that increases the risk of attack," Molins said, according to a basic translation. "We can see in the history of terrorism when terrorist organizations are struggling to area, they seek the opportunity to commit attacks outside. The second worrying factor is what might be called the threat of the return: We will, at one time or another, be faced with the return of a large number of French soldiers and their families."
As such, Molins said, France began to impose harsher penalties on radicals in July. From now on, people found guilty of associating with terrorist groups can be sentenced to 30 years in prison. Previously, jail time for the crime was capped at 10 years, Reuters reported.
The new terms "protect society by keeping these people in jail longer," he added to Le Monde.
Brookings reported this summer that more than 900 people have left France to join ISIS, and about 250 have come back. Meanwhile, as many as 1,000 French citizens have been radicalized but remain in the country.
Molins said one of his greatest concerns was the increasing number of teenaged girls being recruited to the ISIS cause. Last month, a 16-year-old was charged with conspiring with terrorists and provoking people to commit attacks through the encrypted messaging program Telegram. "She relayed numerous Islamic State group propaganda messages calling for attacks, and she also expressed her own intention of taking action," an anonymous source in the court system told the Daily Express.
Read Molins' full interview in Le Monde here.