French Minister of the Interior Gérard Collomb reported on Friday that individuals reported as radicals and connected with terrorist organizations has jumped 60 percent in the last two years, and that the number is steadily increasing.
According to Ouest France, some 18,500 people in France are registered as potential radicals. This is an increase from 11,400 cases of potential radicalization as reported by "terrorism-related terrorist prevention" in March 2015. The database tracks the personal information of watched individuals, as well as their alleged connections to terrorist groups.
According to Ouest France, the suspected terrorists are not just men, but women and children as well. Female radicals accounted for 26 percent of cases, minors 16 percent, and French converts made up 34 percent of the list.
Ouest France reported the spike can be explained by the Islamic State losing battles in countries like Iraq and Syria, along with the Islamic State's strategy of placing radicals in Western countries:
These figures can be explained first of all by the drying up of the jihadist channels toward Iraq and Syria but also by the new strategy of the Islamic State directed toward the exacerbation of the threat within the countries. With the decomposition of the territory of the terrorist organization, the numerous Frenchmen who left in Iraq and Syria are back in France, the services of the State evaluate them to 217 people of majority and 54 miners.
According to Le Journal du Dimanche, Collomb said on Aug. 6 that the threat from terrorists remains very high, but anti-terrorist services have prevented numerous terror attacks, and many of those on the list are incarcerated.
"As for the returns, we are 217 adults and 54 minors. The terrorist threat remains very high: twice, the Champs-Elysees have been targeted, and our services have foiled seven attacks attempts since the beginning of the year," Collomb said. "The "returnees" are subject to systematic judicial treatment by the public prosecutor of the Republic of Paris and many of them are currently incarcerated."
Recruitment for ISIS has been relatively easy compared to other jihadist groups, according to experts.
In October, The Independent reported that the Islamic State tends to target young men with criminal backgrounds looking for redemption. This is reportedly different from the way other terrorist groups have recruited in the past. Most jihadist groups focus on purity and scholarly knowledge.
“A lot of analysts continue saying terrorists are middle or upper class, Osama bin Laden was the son of a millionaire and the 9/11 attackers were students for instance,” Professor Peter Neumann, director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London told The Independent.
“But I don’t think that doesn’t reflect the reality we have with ISIS – we need to rethink our strategy.”
Neumann said that ISIS's recruitment efforts toward people with criminal histories and violent pasts give those who join justification for their cruelty.
“It gives criminals a moral justification for doing what they have always been doing – only now they will go to heaven,” Neumann said.
(h/t: Daily Caller)