Mitchell Prothero reports: At least 12 former members of the French military are among the estimated 1,000 French citizens who’ve joined the Islamic State, including one highly trained special forces commando who was radicalized while working as a security contractor in the Persian Gulf, according to French officials and analysts as well as Arab security services.
One French intelligence official said the number is a reflection of France’s changing demographics, even though mandatory military service ended in France in 2001.
“I don’t have any hard numbers on this because France is a secular society where religious affiliation isn’t supposed to be tracked formally, but the general sense is that the French military has evolved into a heavily – and often devout – Roman Catholic officer corps leading a primarily and somewhat devout Muslim enlisted formation,” said the official, who spoke under the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the topic.
At least three former soldiers have been apprehended attempting to return to France from the Middle East after having fought alongside insurgents, according to a recent statement by French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. Nine others currently fighting with the Islamic State have been identified. [Continue reading…]