Le Pen says French government hiding true number of jihadists

Marine Le Pen, leader of Front National
Marine Le Pen, leader of Front National Reuters/Francois Lenoir

Front National leader Marine Le Pen says the number of French nationals who are involved in jihad activities is much higher than the French government admits.


In an interview on French television, the FN leader maintained that many of those who left France to fight held dual nationality and the French interior ministry had chosen not to count them among French nationals.

The French government says that 1,132 French nationals are connected to jihad networks, of which 376 are currently in Syria and Iraq.

“There are those that the French government considers to be French and those who are considered to be Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian. All these countries have seen a certain number of people leave to fight who also have French nationality and they are not counted [by the French government as French].”

She went on to criticise as insufficient measures taken by the French authorities to stop radicalised young people leaving France to fight for the jihadist group which calls itself Islamic State.

Le Pen cited the recent case of a jihadist in Canada who had been stopped from leaving the country and instead chose to attack Canada’s parliament “the important thing is that these people don’t come back”, she declared.

Meanwhile concern is growing in France over the radicalisation of young people.

In a new video from the jihadist group which calls itself Islamic State, three Kalashnikov-wielding Frenchmen are seen buring their passports and calling on Muslims to join them or stage attacks in France.

Figures published in Le Monde newspaper this week showed that almost 25% of those who leave to join jihads are converts to Islam.

Among EU countries, Belgium and Denmark send the highest proportion of their populations to jihad in Iraq and Syria but by far the biggest number of fighters has come from France.

Louis Caprioli, a former head of counter-terrorism for the French intelligence service, points towards the “Tabligh” movement of Islamic preachers that has been “very active in French towns and suburbs since the mid-1990s”, providing a base from which some members of the community moved on to more radical groups.

“Its efforts to re-Islamise young people of second and third generation immigrant communities is now bearing fruit”, he said while also noting that IS uses internet very cleverly.




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