Nearly 1,000 Frenchmen join jihad, dozens of women and kids 'stopped en route'
“930 French citizens or foreigners usually resident in France are today involved in jihad in Iraq and Syria,” France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told Le Journal du Dimanche.
According to Cazeneuve, at least 350 people “are on the ground, including 60 women.”
“Around 180 have left from Syria and 170 are en route for the zone,” he said, adding that about 230 people want to get to the areas with Islamic militants.
Also, at least 36 have already died fighting alongside the ISIS jihadists. These numbers are not included in the 930 figure, he added.
There are those who “claim to have left on a humanitarian mission,” said the minister, adding that this is not true as French authorities “have reliable information that they fought in jihadist ranks.”
Cazeneuve added that “at least 70” French citizens and residents were stopped from leaving to Iraq and Syria after the country’s government received around 350 alerts about alleged jihadists.
Among those who were stopped on their way to jihad were 80 children and 150 women.
Earlier, a parliamentary report stated that about 950 people are fighting within the Islamic militants. Among them 350 are already fighting there, 150 are on their way to war-torn zones, 180 came back to France from Syria and Iraq and 220 are planning to depart, French media reported.
In June, the authorities arrested Mehdi Nemmouche, a 29-year-old French citizen wanted in connection with the shooting in Brussels’ Jewish museum in May.
“The perversity of the terrorist jihadist system means that you do not necessarily have to receive a mission to carry out a terrorist act,” said Cazeneuve, answering a question by Le Journal du Dimanche about Nemmouche.
“When people are psychologically destroyed by daily acts of extreme violence, decapitations or other acts of barbarism, all their moral values fall, all their points of reference are wiped out,” he added.
In July France introduced stricter anti-terrorist legislation amid growing concerns that its nationals are fighting abroad alongside Islamic militants.
Individuals who are suspected of terrorism will be banned from traveling abroad for up to six months. The passports of the suspects may also be confiscated for some time or invalidated.
"The objective of this bill is to increase the number of hurdles to discourage those who want to go and to stop them [from] actually going," the Interior Minister said.
Germany authorities raise alarm over growing number of jihadist-related cases
Meanwhile, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Justice is alarmed over the growing number of cases connected with jihadists fighting in Iraq and Syria, reports Der Spiegel.
There are about 140 cases concerning the terrorists and their alleged accomplices in Islamic State.
On Friday, Germany announced a ban on IS in the country.
"The terrorist organization Islamic State is a threat to public safety in Germany," said Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere. "We don't know what they are doing, but it could be that they will carry out attacks.”
According to de Maiziere, over 400 Germans have joined IS in Iraq and Syria and about 40 have died.
More US women joining jihadists
US authorities are investigating a “curious case” of US women joining the IS (Islamic State). At least three families of Somali origin in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area said that women from their community had gone missing in the last six weeks. According to relatives, they joined the jihadists in Syria and Iraq.
Another example shows a 19-year-old US Somali woman who joined the Islamic militants. She first travelled to Turkey and then joined the IS militants in Syria.
According to Mia Bloom from the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, "ISIS is recruiting these women in order to be baby factories. They are seeing the establishment of an Islamic state and now they need to populate the state," Bloom said.
Austria to ban ISIS symbols
On Friday Austrian authorities announced they are planning to ban terrorist-related symbols, starting with the flag of the IS (formerly ISIS) extremist movement, reported the newspaper Wiener Zeitung.
The authorities agreed on an amendment to the Abzeichengesetz (Badge Law), which bans the display of symbols, flags and uniforms of several organizations, primarily Nazis and extreme far-right race hate groups.
According to a spokesman for Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner, a final agreement is not yet confirmed, but will be ready next week, when the authorities agree on sentencing options for courts.