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Three weeks after deadly attacks claimed 17 lives in Paris, the French government launched an online platform on Wednesday aimed at dissuading potential jihadis from joining terror groups in Syria and Iraq.
In a two-minute video montage, an unnamed recruiter makes contact with someone on Facebook, noting their interest in the Syrian conflict and asking whether they would like to join friends fighting "over there.”
By using a series of comparisons, the video attempts to show the difference between what would-be jihadis are told by recruiters and what will happen once they make it to Syria or Iraq. "They tell you, 'Sacrifice yourself alongside us and you'll be defending a noble cause.' In reality, you will discover hell on earth and will die alone, far from home," one statement read. “They tell you, ‘Join us and come help Syrian children.’ In reality, you will be an accomplice in the massacre of civilians,” read another.
The video was posted on a website featuring information for parents worried their children might join the fighters, including a toll-free number they can call to speak with indoctrination specialists.
“We know that 90 percent of youth who fall into radicalization, notably the most vulnerable, fall into it through the Internet. The idea is to broadcast information, to counter the discourse,” Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in an interview with French news outlet Itele.
Three of the perpetrators of the Jan. 7 Paris attacks, brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi and Amedy Coulibaly, claimed ties or had links to terror outfits in the Middle East. A video appearing to show Coulibaly pledging allegiance to ISIS surfaced after authorities killed him, while the Kouachi brothers claimed they belonged to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — which is considered the most violent branch of al Qaeda.
Cherif Kouachi and Coulibaly also socialized with a convicted jihadi who has been described as a "sorcerer" and "seducer" after falling under his spell in prison.