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Family Of French ISIS Fighters Try To Stop Young People From Going To Syria

“When I read the message ‘Mom, I’m in Syria,’ I read, ‘Mom, I’m dead,'" one parent said.

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In a bid to deter young people from traveling to fight in Syria and Iraq, the French government has released interviews detailing the experiences of relatives who have lost loved ones.


The short videos feature four people who have lost loved ones to ISIS: two mothers, a father, and a brother.

According to the French government, an estimated 800 people have traveled to Syria and the surrounding region to fight since 2012, and presumably most have joined ISIS. More than 100 French nationals have died fighting alongside the terrorist organization — some as young as 12 years old.

Earlier this year, the French government launched a new initiative to combat ISIS recruiters online. Since its launch in Feburary, Stop-Djihadisme.gouv.fr has released large numbers of videos and articles attempting to illustrate the realities of life in ISIS, and encourage French people to unite against the jihadist group.

In one video, Saliha says her son was brainwashed into traveling to Syria, and was killed weeks after his arrival.


"When I read the message 'Mom, I'm in Syria,' I read, 'Mom, I'm dead,'" she said in the video. "Because in my head, he was already dead."

She said she and her husband received a phone call from Syria informing them that her son had "died a martyr".

"No matter your origins, no matter the religion, it can affect everybody," she added.

In another video, Jonathan recalled his devastation when he learned his sister had left France to go to Syria.


"She called my mother on Skype. It's been a year since she left and she still says the same thing, that we need not worry, that we must come, it's paradise there," he said.

"You want to shake her, to tell her 'Fucking open your eyes, it's not that life – that's what you want?'"

Baptiste, from Île-de-France, remembered the moment he heard his 17-year-old daughter left to join the group.


"She called us in Turkey, and said, "Dad, Mum, I am going to Syria," he recalled. He said that the "happy and cheerful" daughter he knew "had died", adding "[ISIS] stole my child."

Hussein Kesvani is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Hussein Kesvani at Hussein.Kesvani@BuzzFeed.com.

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