France Has Released 343 Convicted Islamist Terrorists in Last Four Years

A prison guard stands at the door of an inmate's cell at the Fleury-Merogis prison some 30 kms south of Paris on March 31, 2022. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP) (Photo by CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT/AFP via Getty Images)

Over the last four years, France has released 343 convicted terrorists from prison, releasing 72 so far this year, with detainees still considered threats and placed under intelligence and judicial supervision.

Islamic terrorist convicts are still numerous in French prisons, with the French Ministry of Justice stating at 406 convicted Islamist terrorists still remain behind bars, while 343 have been released from various prisons over the last four years, reports claim.

Those who have been released in the last four years have been placed under strict judicial and intelligence agency supervision, with one of the convicted terrorists, a Franco-Moroccan man named Sofiane, explaining his experiences to broadcaster Franceiunfo since his release in December of 2019.

Sofiane was arrested in 2016 after he had flown to Syria for three weeks in 2013, and served nearly three years in prison for “criminal association of a terrorist nature.”

“At first, I was forbidden to leave the city. I have to justify my home, my work, any novelty in my habits,” he said and added, “You have to go to the police station twice a day with your ID, in the morning and in the evening. It’s hard for me because I couldn’t train or work. And I wasn’t going to afford to find a job at the risk of missing my signature at 4 p.m. and going back to jail.”

Sofiane also had to check in with a local branch of France’s domestic intelligence agency, the DGSI, for 17 months as well as speak to a psychologist and his probation officer.

UCLAT, the unit of the DGSI that monitors terrorists who have been released from prison, still views them as a potential threat with one official telling Franceinfo, “Potentially, they can actually take action again or try to take action again.”

“We discuss and we look at the most appropriate, the most effective measure to apply on a case-by-case basis. It is applied to convicted terrorists, and also to individuals who have been convicted of common law offences, but who have been radicalised in prison,” the official added.

French former anti-terrorist judge Marc Trévidic has previously warned of the danger posed by convicted terrorists saying, “We are in an area where the risk of re-offending is very high. You must not fool yourself. I would compare that to serial criminals, or serial rapists.”

“It’s even harder to deradicalise people who are highly radicalised than it is to fight against global warming,” he added.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)


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