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French report links Islamist radicalisation to social deprivation

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Islamic State fighters in Syria last year Mahmoud Taha / AFP

Most French nationals killed fighting for armed Islamist groups in Syria and Iraq came from deprived backgrounds, a leaked study by anti-terror investigators has revealed, showing a link between inequality and jihadi radicalisation.


The typical jihadi recruit is young, often but not always from an immigrant background, has a criminal record and lives in a deprived area, a report by France's anti-terror coordination unit Uclat has found, according to the LCI TV station on Friday.

According to LCI, a study of the 265 French nationals - 257 men and eight women - killed fighting with the Islamic State (IS) armed group and similar organisations, found:

  • 56 percent lived in districts considered priorities for social problems;

  • 48 percent had criminal records;

  • 52 percent were descendants of immigrants;

  • 24 percent were born in France to parents with no connection to immigration;

  • Their average age is 28.

The oldest French national to die in jihadi ranks was the mother of Fabien and Jean-Michel Clain, who voiced IS's claim of responsibility for the November 2015 Paris attacks, who is not named.

She died of a liver disease at the age of 62.

The youngest were two brothers from Toulouse who were killed during fighting in 2015 at the ages of 12 and 14.

The report also draws a profile of people placed on France's radicalisation watch-list.

They tend to have faced problems at school, live in public housing in a deprived area, come from a one-parent family, have broken with their family and be long-term unemployed.