US government officials distributed the paper to overseas government agencies earlier this year as part of a push by the Obama administration to track and stem the flow of homegrown foreign fighters from Europe bound for Syria and Iraq, a person with knowledge of the matter said.
 
Following the Paris attacks earlier this month and this week's security crackdown in Belgium, European law enforcement and intelligence agencies are under pressure to disrupt the replenishment of Islamic State forces and prevent battle-hardened militants from returning home to carry out attacks.

US officials began lobbying for European countries to enact legal changes targeting Islamic State as early as 2014. But the March 2015 memo details the steps the Justice Department has urged other governments to consider, including prosecuting “aspiring foreign fighters before they leave for Syria or Iraq.

Specifically, the document urges governments to consider making it a crime to travel to designated areas like those under the control of Islamic State or to attempt to join a group deemed by an overseas government to be a terrorist organisation.

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