French teen jihadists home to face the music

2014-01-28 21:09

(Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

  • Syria
    Options and Implications for Lebanon and the Region Now R196.00
    buy now

Toulouse - Two French school students who ran away to fight in Syria were back home Tuesday with some explaining to do to their bewildered parents and teachers and the police.

The two boys, aged 15 and 16, flew to Turkey on 6 January with the apparent intention of crossing the border into Syria and performing "jihad" or holy war alongside the thousands of foreign fighters who have joined rebels battling Bashar Assad's government forces.

The younger of the two succeeded in crossing the border but neither boy reached the front line, to the relief of anxious friends and family in Toulouse, where they were both pupils at the Arenes Lycee, or high school.

The 16-year-old arrived home on Sunday while the 15-year-old, whose repatriation was delayed by complications linked to his entering Syria, got back on Tuesday.

The latter's father appealed to journalists to leave the family alone. "We need to rest, these are very difficult moments for us," he said.

The pair faces interrogation from police about how they came to be sufficiently radicalised to embark on such an adventure and the contacts they must have made in order to believe it was possible.

According to Interior Minister Manuel Valls, as many as 700 French nationals could have joined the fighting in Syria, with perhaps one fifth of the total accounted for by converts to Islam.

Valls has described these radicals as a ticking time bomb whose eventual return to France will present the country with a major security challenge in years to come.

No sign of radicalism

The case of the 15-year-old has been most surprising for his parents and teachers. Brought up in a devout Muslim family, he had never shown any sign of radicalism and had no history of trouble at school or with the police.

The other boy was known to the police in connection with minor offences and comes from a family which includes several Islamist hardliners. He is suspected of having perhaps influenced his younger friend.

Police sources said investigators did not think the two boys necessarily came under the influence of an Islamist network and, as a result, they would be seeking to establish how exactly they got to the point of flying off to Turkey.

An examining magistrate will have to decide whether to charge one or both of the teenagers with criminal conspiracy in the preparation of terrorist acts.

The principal of their lycee, Denis Demersseman, has appealed for leniency, saying they should be regarded as "victims rather than criminals."

The principal said he was well aware that Toulouse was home to a number of radicals seeking to influence youngsters in the city's poorer neighbourhoods.

"Nobody is naive, I have seen plenty of attempts to recruit youngsters, but in their cases, I really didn't see this coming," the principal said.

"It's a huge surprise and for the other students there is incomprehension and fear - something they might have read about in the media is now touching them directly."

Once known primarily for its eponymous sausages and rustic cuisine, Toulouse has become synonymous with France's home-grown Islamist threat.

It was here that gunman Mohamed Merah killed seven people in a 2012 shooting spree and the city was also home to Jean-Daniel and Nicolas Bons, two half-brothers from a comfortable middle class background who converted to Islam and ended up dying in Syria in August 2013 and in late December respectively.

Since Merah was shot in a police siege, it has emerged that he had visited Pakistan and Afghanistan prior to his attacks and had been on the radar of French intelligence, who had gravely under-estimated the threat he posed.

Read more on:    syria  |  france  |  syria conflict
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Dewani Trial
 

Red Bull Lionheart trail run - not for the fainthearted!

Entries are open, so what are you waiting for?

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Adventure holidays for your bucket list
Top 10 water sports to try before you die
6 impressive camping tips
LOL! The 8 stages of marathon running

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is an easy social flow and the need to blend in, yet you may not feel entirely comfortable. Something beneath the surface...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.