The Returned: They Left to Wage Jihad, Now They're Back

The Returned: They Left to Wage Jihad, Now They're Back


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Since 2012, hundreds of men and women have left Western countries to join jihadist groups fighting in Syria. Many are still there, many have been killed, but some have chosen to return to their countries of origin. French Journalist David Thomson met some of those who came back. Bilel, Yassin, Zoubeir, Lena, each has a different profile and story. Some have returned disgusted by the violence of the Syrian battlefields, or the terrorist attacks that have struck across Europe; they try to become forgotten, living under extreme surveillance. Others return seriously wounded or psychologically destroyed. Others still are in jail, a breeding ground for broader radicalization. And some have come back to continue to carry out jihad in Europe. In utmost secrecy, David Thomson gathered their testimonies and recounts them in this remarkable and revealing book.

With ISIS losing ground on all fronts, the steady flow of jihadists returning to Europe represents one of the greatest challenges facing countries across the continent. This nuanced analysis of the social, religious, political, familial and psychological factors that push people to violent extremism is more necessary now than ever. It will be essential reading for all those seeking to understand how we might address this threat.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781509526918
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 07/16/2018
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

David Thomson is a journalist who reported on the Arab Spring and war in Libya for Radio France Internationale. His work was recognised with the 2016 Grand Prix de la Presse Internationale, awarded by the French Association of Foreign Media (APE).

Table of Contents

The Protagonists vii

Introduction 1

Part 1 Bilel

Leaving the Islamic State 11

The arrival in Syria 19

Daily life in the Islamic State 26

The rupture after the Paris attacks 31

Part 2 Yassin

A bullet in his stomach 37

'Anything to bring him back' 43

'Salam alaykum, my son is in Mayadin' 48

'He weighed less than 40 kilos' 53

The French doctors in Raqqa 56

Running backwards 60

'Now you're going to tell us what really happened' 64

Part 3 Zubeir

Zubeir, 20 years old, the repentant Jihadist 71

Being a Jihadist means feeling important 79

The tipping point 84

Jihadist seeks YF for marriage 92

'LOL jihad' 97

'I found ISIS at Fleury-Mérogis' 105

The Islamic State, prison ward 109

Prison, jihadist territory 116

'I'm afraid that people are afraid of me' 124

Part 4 The Women

After jihad, a 'quiet' return to classes for Safya 131

'Sharia is sharia, that's all!' 137

Lena, the women and the desire to kill 143

'I felt powerful. Better than everyone else' 153

Express weddings and quick divorces 162

In the marriage factory 171

Part 5 Kevin and Quentin

The former choirboy from Brittany 183

Nice 191

Part 6 Those Who Didn't Return

Dope, rap, nashid and terrorism 211

From the French army to the caliphate 225

Epilogue 231

Notes 247

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