Are veterans of some of France’s best military units fighting for the enemy? According to the French government, the answer is yes. The National Post (of Canada) reports:
Most of the ex-soldiers, reportedly numbering around 10 and including former paratroopers and French foreign legionnaires, are said to be fighting on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).Most worrying is the reported presence of an ex-member of France’s elite First Marine Infantry Parachute Regiment, considered one of Europe’s most experienced special forces units and which shares the “Who Dares Wins” motto of the SAS.The unnamed individual, of North African origin, had received commando training in combat, shooting and survival techniques. He served for five years before joining a private security company for which he worked in the Arabian peninsula, where he was radicalised before heading for Syria, according to L’Opinion, a news website.
A few of the soldiers in question are foreign born, a few French; a few are from Muslim families, and some were converts. That these men could spend years in a military with one of the proudest and longest traditions of service in the world—and some units, like the Foreign Legion, have a successful track record of integration—and then be seduced by ISIS is disturbing. It will doubtlessly come as a grave blow to French confidence at an already low point.