Comforting: French soldiers joining ISIS

January 22, 2015

France flag

The link from Breitbart to the original article is broken at the moment, but the idea isn’t unimaginable, not in a world in which a US Army officer can describe himself as a “soldier of Allah” and then murder over a dozen of his fellow soldiers while shouting “Allahu Akbar.” And Major Hasan was a psychiatrist acting alone; these former French soldiers represent a whole new level of threat:

A dozen former French soldiers have joined up with jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria, a French official claimed this week, raising concerns about radicalisation of soldiers within the French Armed Forces.

A source within the country’s ministry of defence confirmed the news to AFP news agency after a French radio station, RFI, reported news of the soldiers-turned-jihadis, the Local reports.

“We estimate at around a dozen the number of former troops who have joined these networks,” said the source, who wished to remain anonymous, adding that their concern “is not former soldiers…It’s preventing the phenomenon of radicalization with our forces.”

Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian refused to comment directly on the issue, instead telling reporters at a press conference that cases of former soldiers being tempted by jihadism are “extremely rare.”

Rare (we hope), but it only takes a few to cause a disaster. The article goes on to illustrate some of the risks of professionally trained Western soldiers “going jihadi:”

News which will concern French and other European country’s interior security forces is the news that some of the men, who are mostly in their twenties are “explosives experts” opening up the possibility of the front line being moved from Syria to Europe’s doorstep, with bombs being added to the arsenal of techniques used by Islamic radicals.

L’Opinion newspaper reports that one soldier had served in the French 1st Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment whose speciality is going behind enemy lines for sabotage or intelligence gathering.

The paper reports that after five years as a paratrooper the soldier joined a private security firm protecting oil fields in the Arabian peninsular, a lucrative option for former soldiers with experience and training.

Emphases added. The jackals who attacked Charlie Hebdo had training in Yemen, but these guys bring specialist skills sure to be in high demand with ISIS or al Qaeda… or other groups.

I’m not sure what can be done about this — we can kill these guys, but what about the loyalty of other Muslim recruits or those who convert after enlisting? Are there “soldiers of Allah” currently within French ranks in sensitive posts?

Whatever the answer, this is a worrisome development.

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Bookshelf update: Anne Applebaum’s “Gulag”

January 22, 2015

Renaissance scholar astrologer

I’ve updated the “What I’m reading” widget to the right to reflect the latest item on the Public Secrets lectern, Anne Applebaum’s “Gulag: A History.”

 

book cover applebaum gulag

I’ve only just started it, so I can’t comment on my impressions of the writing or the quality of the Kindle formatting, but the topic is compelling: a complete history of the Soviet prison camp and slave labor system from its foundation under Lenin to its final dissolution in the 1980s. Like reading a book on the Holocaust, I suspect this is the kind of history that will have me hating humanity by its end. Gulag is available in both Kindle and softcover formats.

PS: Why, yes. This is a shameless bit of shilling on my part. I like getting the occasional gift certificate that comes from people buying stuff via my link. Wouldn’t you?