30 French soldiers joined jihadist organizations in Syria, Iraq

Thirty fully trained and experienced French soldiers have joined jihadist organisations in Syria and Iraq since 2012, according to a latest report.

Some 30 French soldiers have joined jihadist organizations in Syria and Iraq since 2012, bringing their experience and knowledge of the war, according to a report by the Center for the Analysis of Terrorism (Centre d'analyse du terrorisme, CAT).

The report, which is due to be published this weekend, the content of which Le Figaro revealed on Wednesday 18 December, documents the journeys of these soldiers, sometimes through renowned units - the Foreign Legion, marine riflemen, paratroopers - who have decided to join the ranks of the jihad after individual journeys that are very different from each other.

The report, which details the backgrounds of 23 individuals by focusing on their motivations, argues that while the army is an obvious "strategic recruitment target", "Islamist radicalisation remains marginal within the armies". Some had prepared their projects before taking up the uniform. Others considered it after they left the army, or even during. Some have deserted, refusing to fight against Muslims. Some were Muslims themselves, having converted.

"Some former military personnel may have planned attacks in France"

The authors of the report estimate that: "Their knowledge of the environment, their appetite for weapons and their military know-how have facilitated their rise among the various terrorist groups. Some former soldiers might have also been able to plan attacks in France, thanks to their military training in the French army, their knowledge of locations and their experience in the field within jihadist organisations.”

The report also notes that the authorities closely monitor the radicalised military or those likely to be radicalised by Islam and that French legislation has been strengthened in recent years, in particular to allow administrative investigations to be carried out on persons already in post.