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Why France should worry about its jihadist hopefuls

France, which has more citizens fighting with Islamic militants in Syria and Iraq than any other EU country, imposes travel restrictions on jihadist hopefuls and tries to "de-radicalize" Muslim girls seeking to join the Islamic State.
Soldiers stand by tourists as they patrol near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, May 8, 2013. President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday, May 7, that France was taking the threat from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) seriously after a purported leader of the Islamist group called for attacks on French interests throughout the world.   REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes (FRANCE - Tags: TRAVEL CIVIL UNREST MILITARY POLITICS) - RTXZEPE

As of Nov. 6, some 1,100 French nationals and residents aged 20 to 30 were officially “involved in jihadist activities in Syria and Iraq.” About 400 are currently on the ground, including 60 noncombatant women, while the rest are either seeking to reach one of the two countries, or on their way back to France, according to Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve. Up to 90% are believed to have joined the Islamic State (IS). The rest are either fighting alongside or providing logistical support to smaller groups affiliated to al-Qaeda.

The number of French waging jihad has more than doubled since April 2014. In March 2013, there were only 50 French jihadists, mostly fighting in Syria. What is even more troubling is that France provides the largest number of jihadists of all the Western countries, so much so that one in three Westerners fighting in Iraq and Syria is believed to be French.

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