A dozen former French soldiers have joined up with jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria, a French official claimed this week, raising concerns about radicalisation of soldiers within the French Armed Forces.
Following the killings by three fundamentalist Muslims in the French capital, Mr Le Drian was addressing journalists to announce new anti-terrorism measures.
In keeping with the direction of modern warfare in developed countries, the military’s 1,000 strong intelligence units will get 65 extra staff to help vet and track recruits more closely.
The concept of a radical jihadi making his way through military selection and passing out through basic training where they will be taught weapons handling, survival skills and how to fight in built up areas and in domestic properties will be of primary concern.
The access to weapons and ammunition means that not only could a rogue soldier turn his weapons on his comrades but they would have access to military bases and pass on intelligence to enemy non-state actors for future attacks.
The radio station reported that most of the French solider-turned-jihadis had joined up with the Islamic State forces and that those who had changed sides included a former special forces soldier and members of the Foreign Legion.
One of the men was commanding a group of French recruits whom he had trained in northeast Syria, passing on his considerable training from his time in the Army to those wanting to use the same skills against the West and in the ongoing conflict in Syria.
News which will concern French and other European country’s interior security forces is the news that some of the men, who are mostly in their twenties are “explosives experts” opening up the possibility of the front line being moved from Syria to Europe’s doorstep, with bombs being added to the arsenal of techniques used by Islamic radicals.
L’Opinion newspaper reports that one soldier had served in the French 1st Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment whose speciality is going behind enemy lines for sabotage or intelligence gathering.
The paper reports that after five years as a paratrooper the soldier joined a private security firm protecting oil fields in the Arabian peninsular, a lucrative option for former soldiers with experience and training.
“That’s where he progressively became radicalised, growing a beard and subscribing to Islamist ideology,” quoted an unnamed source. French intelligence sources said the former paratrooper was “known” to them.