An official report leaked to the French media shows 8,250 people, including women and teenagers, were identified as suspected radical Islamists in France over the last year, more than doubling the previous figure from March 2015.
Last March the number of radical Islamists in France identified in a similar exercise was 4,015. However, in a worrying trend which sees “the contagion” spreading throughout the country, that figure has now more than doubled, reports the centre-right leaning newspaper Le Figaro.
The official report, which was leaked to the newspaper, is based on people identified as condoning terrorism or being hostile to French institutions. Those individuals are identified by several sectors of French society, including the police, educational authorities, concerned family members, and the general public.
Some were reported as vulnerable or dangerous individuals to the dedicated website and telephone hotline for those seeking professional advice — provided by psychologists, social workers and experts on radical Islamists — about how to handle children they believe are becoming radicalised.
Despite widespread concern about the possibility of radicalising individuals through internet contact, which has resulted in the blocking or closure of 4,848 websites and Twitter or Facebook accounts, a member of the French Anti-Terrorist Coordination Unit said that “the trigger in 95 per cent of cases relates to human contact”.
Based on the report Le Figaro produced a map (shown below) highlighting the spread of suspected radical Islamists across France.
— Valentine Arama (@AramaValentine) February 2, 2016
Predictably the densely-populated areas with high Muslim concentrations in and around Paris and in the south east of France feature highly, however the dark blue areas show there are concentrated pockets of suspected radicalism throughout much of the country.
The report also shows that France risks exporting its problem with 275 suspected radical Islamists prevented from leaving last year. Nevertheless, in April Prime Minister Manuel Valls revealed that over 1,550 French citizens or residents were involved in terrorist networks in Syria and Iraq, a number that had almost tripled since January 2014.