The French Ministry of the Interior is concerned that the number of French citizens going to Syria to participate in jihad has increased recently, and it fears what they might do when they return home. So far, 18 French jihadis have been killed in Syria, 70 have returned, and 220 (four times as any as in May 2013) are thought to be on the ground there. Another 200 to 300 might be preparing to go. About 80 percent are of North African descent, usually young men who ignored the precepts of their ancestral religion and indulged in debauchery until they were “born again” into a life of puritanical fanaticism. The other 20 percent are French converts.
Libération, the left-wing French newspaper, recently carried an interesting interview with the mother of one such convert, Nicolas Bons, alias Abu Abdel Rahman, 30, who died in a suicide bombing in Syria. She has started an organization dedicated to preventing more departures for Syria among young Frenchmen. Nicolas’s paternal half-brother, Jean-Daniel, aged 22, another convert to Islam, also went to Syria, where he was killed in August 2013 in a confrontation with Bashar al-Assad’s army.