The story of a French jihadist who returned from Syria

By Feriel Alouti

A French jihadist who enrolled in Syria with the al-Nusra Front, allied to al-Qaeda, speaks here about the reasons he left for the war-torn country, his life on the ground and what happened when he returned to France where he is now due to be tried on charges of helping to prepare a terrorist attack. In this, his first interview, the young Muslim convert tells Feriel Alouti: “I don’t minimize what I did but was I a threat to France at any given moment? I went there to help Syrians, not to kill French people”.

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His appearance is plain, his clothes as ordinary as can be. His face is round and juvenile and the beard he sports is dense but short. Only the hands show a certain agitation, trembling a little as he prepares to tell his unusual story, that of a jihadist who joined up to fight in Syria against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.