Teenage jihadis. From the LA Times, with thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist:
PARIS — The case file of the French homeboys who joined the Iraqi jihad contains a startling photo.
It’s the mug shot of Salah, the alleged point man in Damascus, Syria, who authorities say arranged for guns and safe passage into Iraq for extremists from Paris. Salah has a serious expression beneath a short Afro-style haircut. He looks as if he’s posing, reluctantly, for a middle school yearbook.
When Salah left for Damascus with the jihadis last summer, he was 13 years old….
“Iraq is the motor,” said a senior French anti-terrorism official, who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons. “It’s making them all go crazy, want to be shaheed [martyrs]. The danger of suicide attacks in Europe and the United States increases as you have younger guys who are fervent and easily manipulated.”
Along with longtime resentment and alienation experienced by some in immigrant communities, technology such as computers and Arabic-language satellite TV plays a major role in molding militants earlier, European officials say. Internet sites and chat rooms have become a virtual sanctuary, widening access to propaganda and training materials for an emerging “second generation” of extremists.
Right. And in those sites they don’t just talk about Iraq. They talk about Islamic theology. It is no longer enough for groups like the CIP to bloviate about a multiplicity of interpretations of the Qur’an — if such groups really want to gain any influence among young Muslims like Salah, they have to confront and refute the jihadist interpretation. This they have not even attempted to do.
Later in the article we read that:
Syria is popular with young European Muslims hoping to study religion or Arabic, because it is cheaper to live there than in Egypt or Saudi Arabia. Syria is also a hub of smugglers and operatives of the Iraq insurgency: a gateway to jihad. Koranic schools in Damascus have become steppingstones and cover stories for Iraq-bound militants.