The Centre for Analysis of Terrorism (CAT) has released a report claiming that as many as 23 former French soldiers have joined radical Islamic terror groups such as the Islamic state.
Manon Chemel, the author of the report, said that most of the former soldiers have joined the Islamic State and that nearly half of them had been Islamic converts, while 10 had been members of elite units such as the Foreign Legion or Air Commandos, Le Figaro reports.
The other former soldiers are said to have served as regulars primarily in the army, with one subject serving in the navy and one other in the air force.
The armed forces, according to the CAT report, are a “strategic recruitment target for terrorist groups”. It added that many such recruits end up in strategic positions within terrorist groups, while others have targetted other soldiers and military installations.
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Abdelilah H., a former Legionnaire, set up his own jihadist brigade which included several of the Bataclan massacre terrorists, while another former soldier named Osama S. was a member of the sharia law police in the Islamic State capital of Raqqa.
While most of the ex-soldiers are young, some, like Frédéric R., who was arrested in November by the General Directorate for Internal Security (DGSI), are far older. In his sixties, Frédéric R. is said to have helped younger terrorists and claimed to be an Islamic State soldier.
The report comes just months after a French parliamentary report authored by MPs Éric Diard and Éric Poulliat revealed fears that radical Islamists were infiltrating the French public sector including Paris’s RATP, the company which oversees the vast public transport network in the French capital.
Some of the former soldiers who joined terror groups are in prison but many jihadists are set for release in the next several years. Former anti-terrorism judge Marc Trévidic warned earlier this month that at least 400 jihadists could be set for release starting in 2020 and 2021.
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