A series of messages sent by French jihadi fighters who have travelled to Syria reveal they are not as tough as they thought they might be, the An Nahar website reports, and some are bored because they are being treated “as dogsbodies”.
French newspaper Le Figaro published a selection of these missives which show that many perhaps did not realise that the route they were taking was very much one way.
“I’m fed up to the back teeth. My iPod no longer works out here. I have got to come home,” one read. But while new fighters are being welcomed, particularly those from the West who are ideal for use in propaganda messages, deserters are executed instantly.
This was the case for one Frenchman who was rumoured to have been beheaded when he explained to the emir that he wanted to go back home.
It might be a volunteer force when you get there, but there’s no ‘rest and relaxation’ between tours of duty as legitimate soldiers have.
For some, the fear is about dying. It’s only when they join other militants in the desert they decide that being a martyr isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. But for others, it’s being sent to the front line without any military training. According to the report, some of the recruits so far have just been made to “do the washing up”.
But the report also highlighted that some think they can come home and carry on with life where they left it. “I’ve done hardly anything but hand out clothes and food. I’ve also cleaned weapons and moved the bodies of killed fighters. Winter is beginning. It’s starting to get tough” one wrote, appealing for clemency from their government. They hope that as long as they haven’t killed anyone, they will be let off. But for France, that is not how it works. If people join IS and return, they will be arrested as 76 of 100 returnees have been so far.
“Everybody grasps that the longer these people stay out there, the more they become time bombs when they return” one lawyer was quoted by Le Figaro.
A group of them are acting on behalf of the families of these young recruits and trying to smooth the path for their return. They have tried to make discreet contact with the anti-terrorist police, the directors of internal security and the office of the interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve.
The advice is simple: if they get away they should present themselves at a French consulate in Istanbul or Erbil. And, they are told “we will see.”
More than 260 people from France are believed to have left their homes to take up arms with the Islamic extremists, joined by many from other European countries including the UK.
And it’s this country which is known as the global leader in reforming jihadis, so much so that the report says some in the French services are asking for secondment to MI5 who are “famed for their art of debriefing”.
Such praise may well draw attention to the UK security services by would be terrorists, a number of whom have been arrested in recent weeks for plotting to kill and maim on Britain’s streets.