Homegrown jihadism: How to prevent terrorist catastrophe?

De Baripedia

Homegrown jihadism is a new trend that has emerged since 2005 and 2006, becoming the central political issue in the fight against terrorism. We are also talking about terrorism from within. This is a very recent movement for modern states. It is a form of terrorism committed by individuals isolated in the name of an international theory or doctrine. This is something very complicated to take into consideration because it means that this new mode of action escapes what we had experienced in the 2000s and 9/11 with cosmopolitanism, but not a national agent.

In public policy, there is an interpretation of external action that is tantamount to implementing internal management of external threats. Therefore, it is necessary to wonder how to spot them raising the question of what is happening in their country, especially the movements that take place in conflicts is the important border crossing. At some point, there are no longer any reference points for qualifying these risks of internal violence.

There are different names referring to the same phenomenon. In the United States the term used is "homegrown terrorism", in Canada it is referred to as "domestic terrorism", in Great Britain as "domestic terrorism" and in France as "terrorism from within". There is the idea that we would be in a phenomenon that is becoming more and more widespread today as individuals who are acting in isolation in terms of organization and logistics, not as a group. This raises the problem that logistics and mode of operation are different. We're either going from an individual who goes alone. It is a universal process that would expand and at the same time they are very local organizations. It is questionable whether homegrown terrorism did not exist before homegrown jihadism, i. e. whether there would not be individuals who would fall within the scope of domestic terrorism without being radical Islamists. Even with the phenomenon of radical Islam, as in the United States, there is an extreme right-wing libertarian movement. There is already an internal terrorism that was originally right-wing and religious in nature. The RAND Corporation had published a report that between 11 September 2001 and the end of 2009,46 attempts to take action were prevented.

L'hôtel Taj Mahal à Bombay lors des attentats du 29 novembre 2008 afp.com/Pal Pillai

What will enable this concept to be taken into account are the Madrid bombings of 2004 and the London attacks of 2005, which are the two high points where for the first time it turns out that young nationals decide to place bombs in the subway on behalf of British soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan. Homegrown Jihadism refers to homegrown terrorism raise issues of counter-terrorism. Efficiency is very strong because we have to deal with individuals within society. With homegrown terrorism and homegrown jihadism, we have to deal with locals who know the city and control their environment. The actors of the violent action have an extraordinary knowledge of the city, they have an extremely deep knowledge of the city. They can move through space because they are not detectable. By moving through space, they have more freedom to choose strategic locations with impunity. The places of operation remain the public space because, instead of an isolated act, the act of destruction of the public space is symbolically more important. Whether it is in the subway as with the sarin gas attack in Tokyo in March 1995, the attacks of the 2000's in New York, London, Madrid and Bombay, the objective is to show the power of the act of claim. The bombings in Bombay were the work of a military organization that raised opaque borders as part of the homegrown jihadism.

Les conflits entre les différentes factions sur le terrain © IDÉ

For France, the triggering event is the Syrian affair which has become an important place for the making of this jihadism. In Syria, there is a regrouping of combatants, a polarization as desired by al-Qaeda. From the moment something fails, there is an important movement towards it. There are a whole host of fighters, such as Chechen commandos, al-Qaeda brigades, Hezbollah fighters, but also Salafists and Islamic State fighters in Iraq and the Levant. There is a plethora of group muscular combatants welcoming all those who are willing to go and fight. Today, the question of the refocusing of forces in this place of combat is being repeated on a continental, Middle Eastern and even African scale, with the internationalisation of the conflict in a place where foreign and European jihadists are concentrated.


In France, about 1600 Europeans have left today to do jihad in Syria. Of these 1600 jihadists, 700 are currently on site. This map shows how this movement became polarized. In France, four cities are mainly suppliers of jihad which are cities of high immigration in order to operate its productive system and which are places in crisis, economic, social and identity. There is a logic of transition and translation between places where the conditions for the development of identity and citizenship become difficult depending on economic conditions and the ability to integrate these populations.

There is a translation since there is a fight that is becoming internationalized since the movements say that Syria is a fundamental stake in the struggle for a new caliphate.

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According to official French sources, there are 250 French fighters in Syria out of 700 who are said to have passed. Of these 700 Frenchmen who left France, analyses show that, at the outset, it was rather adult young people who, in a conversion to radical Islam, opposed the West and the orienting movement that decided to fight there in the name of Islam's values. The problem that has recently arisen is that there are minors leaving, but also girls who escape the traditional logic. In a report from 19 January 2014 at 10:37, Agence France Presse reports that "250 Frenchmen, including a dozen miners who went to jihad in Syria, 21 Frenchmen died".


This is something composite that raises the question of radical Islam with an assessment of a renewed threat of radical terrorism. Manuel Valls assesses this new threat as "individuals, generally residents of working-class neighborhoods, who take action at the end of the process of radicalisation, more or less lengthy in which delinquency, virulent anti-Semitism, exploitation of the conflicts in the Near and Middle East, etc. can mingle," he said in a speech to the Committee on Laws concerning the bill of 14 November 2012 on security and the fight against terrorism... These individuals, true enemies of the interior, represent a diffuse threat that requires a heavy and meticulous surveillance work.

There is a process that is a process-based system that is explained by societal, political and institutional mistrust and flaws. Islam in prison has long been more than tolerated by prison administrations because it is the construction of a social peace. Islam being structuring, it allows individuals to be framed by morality and the Qur' an helping the penal institution because it is convenient for it to have a structure that takes power in order to avoid conflicts. The institution played it. The passage of young people to prison means that they end up in a delinquent system, but where they find a framework that gives them a form of legitimation. There is a process of indoctrination that is being built in which we are going to sell a radical Islam devoid of any coherence that would determine the reading of the Koran. On the other hand, it works on acculturated young people who have no cultural reference points, neither with modern society nor with their parents who have abandoned their culture of origin.

The specificity of homegrown jihadism is not the threat of the character of the young people who are going to fight, but it is the return of the fighter who poses a problem. The fighter goes to combat zones, and if he survives, goes home with his battles. The threat to France is produced by the "return" effect of outside combat theatres.

French homegrown jihadism: characteristics and evolutions[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Logo d'E.T.A. à Altsasu (création de Félix Likiniano).
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It is questionable whether international terrorism can be defined as homegrown terrorism. The broadest definition is of "nationals" who fight most often from within and within the borders of their nation-state of nationality. It is necessary to revisit the definitions in order to understand the phenomena at stake, because the recent definition of homegrown terrorism does not conceal any innovation in the field of violence, since the forms of international terrorism in the 1970s and 1990s fall within the scope of homegrown terrorism.

The definition of homegrown jihadism introduces the religious factor, that of radical political Islam born with the political Islam of the 1970s and 1980s. In a way, homegrown jihadism existed before 9/11 for countries that had been involved internationally with Middle East issues. The recent definition of homegrown jihadism thus describes an ancient reality long before September 11, 2001 that characterizes the transition from Marxist-inspired and internationalist secular terrorism to radical Islamic terrorism based on jihad.


Between 1984 and 1986, France suffered a series of attacks because of its Lebanese policy. The attacks on Hezbollah, which took place in Paris at the Claridge Hotel, Gibert Jeune's, the FNAC Sport des Halles, the RER Saint-Michel and the Tati store, were conventional attacks. The best-known case is the attacks committed between June and September 1995 by Khaled Kelkal as part of the Armed Islamic Group[GIA]. Khaled Kelkal is Franco-Algerian, spreading terror in France along the lines of an armed Islamist group claiming the constitution of an Islamic state in France.

The Roubaix gang is a group of young French "ethnic" converts to Islam who fought in the former Yugoslavia, particularly in Bosnia, to defend the Muslim populations attacked by Serbia in its aggressive and Christian hypernational. Young people appear who decide to go and fight there, becoming promoters of attacks in France when they return. Christophe Caze and Lionel Dumont are both French-born. Their trajectory at common points of the homegrown jihadism paths. It is a personal religious journey ranging from indoctrination to conversion making Islam of convenience, a fighting Islam. Their mobilization and commitment led them to military Jihad. Their autonomous logic of action is relayed by consulting jihadist sites or following the preachings of radical mosques. They have erased national values in favour of over-interpreted religious values within the framework of a cumulative logic of elements of rupture with the real social world such as structural unemployment, social relegation leading to a sense of failure in one's existence. This individual marginalisation leads to incivility or common law offences. The discovery of prison is concomitant with an indoctrination by Islam of prisons providing a sense of protection and a collective identity of refuge. It is the formation of a family with an important social system to understand.

Khaled Kelkal © Zebar-Sipa

In an interview conducted by sociologist Dietmar Loch, who works on the Lyon suburbs entitled "Moi Khaled Kelkal" published in Le Monde on 7 October 1995, he shows a person who decides to switch to violence and explains it.

« This shows the inadequacy of our societies to take into account the social, the political and that generates places of reconstitution confirming previous analyses in the case of the French jihadists who went to fight in Syria. The process is composite and graduated with academic failure, humiliations, non-integration through work, larçines, petty delinquency, conversion to radical mosques and a sense of self-gratification leading to a personal and thoughtful commitment to the jihadist cause. »

Two half-brothers from Toulouse, Nicolas (31 years old) and Jean-Daniel (22 years old) went to Syria to join the Combattants de l'Etat islamique in Iraq and the Levant and were killed there a few months apart. After announcing to their families that they are going on holiday in Thailand, they join Barcelona, fly to Casablanca and join Istanbul. Through a route called "individual nomadism" they manage to penetrate without relay into Syria. It is interesting that the framework is not necessarily quite the same with the combatants of the radical Islam of September 11 who were educated.

Homegrown jihadism: a forgotten anti-terrorist fight after 9/11[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

There will be reforms aimed at integrating the issues of terrorism from within. In 2001, the fight against terrorism was fully integrated into the institutional security framework of the Second World War and Cold War. The major distinction made is between internal and external struggle. Inland combat is carried out by the Directorate of Territorial Surveillance[DST] and General Intelligence[RG] while external combat is carried out by the External Documentation and Counter Intelligence Service[SDECE]. The large administrative and institutional division was internal and external, external to monitor what is happening and internal to control what is happening. The French specificity comes under the law of 9 September 1986, which is the creation of an anti-terrorist pole at the Paris Public Prosecutor's Office - 14th Anti-Terrorism Section - with a purely anti-terrorist section which deals only with judicial issues in the field of terrorism, centralizing legal proceedings by appointing special judges and special courts of justice.

Le juge antiterroriste Jean-Louis Bruguière

The French system is considered effective, particularly in the context of the events in New York. France "warned" the Americans of the September 11 threat, hence the quality of French intelligence on human intelligence and not like the Americans on technological intelligence. The globalized jihad that Al Qaeda claims to claim is part of a classic management of terrorist violence, of the relationship between external and internal security. The terrorism of the internal struggle in France was forgotten after 9/11 because it was effective.

Source : ministère de la défense.

In the United States, there have been major security reviews with the establishment of a new security administration, the Department of Homeland Security, comprising 22 federal agencies and the adoption of the Patriot Act, which violates civil liberties. French satisfaction is expressed in reports in parliamentary reports and notably in the report of Alain Marsaud, a former magistrate and head of the central anti-terrorist service at the Paris Public Prosecutor's Office, dated November 2005 on the draft law on the fight against terrorism:"France has not discovered terrorism with the attacks in New York and Washington, which confirmed the validity of the measures put in place since 1986".

Between 1982 and 2005, the counter-terrorism machinery was structured very slowly in order to achieve better coordination and better judicial treatment of problems. In 1982 the SDCECE was founded, which became the Directorate General for External Security[DGSE], in 1984 the Anti-Terrorist Coordination Unit[UCLAT] was created to coordinate general police and national gendarmerie, in 1986 the judicial treatment of terrorist cases was consolidated within the framework of the Paris Public Prosecutor's Office, and in 1992 a Military Intelligence Directorate[DRM] was created. The general objectives of these reforms are to produce better coordination between domestic intelligence services and counter-espionage, to be able to amplify security measures and to establish an effective judicial process for the investigation of judgments.

The Recomposition of Counter-Terrorism to the Challenges of Homegrown Jihadism, 2004 - 2015[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

Attentat terroriste le 11 mars 2004 à Madrid CHRISTOPHE SIMON AFP/ARCHIVES

Awareness was raised between 2004 and 2005. On 11 March 2004, the Madrid bombing took place with the explosion of 10 bombs in four trains, killing 191 people and injuring more than 1400. On 7 July 2005, the London bombing took place with the explosion of four transport bombs, resulting in 56 deaths and 700 injuries.

The observation is that in Spain, the jihadists are Moroccan, but Spanish provided the explosives. In Britain, the jihadists are four young British Muslims. The problem is raised that it will be necessary to focus on populations that are apparently integrated and do not show religious fervour, have no criminal record and do not distinguish themselves from other young people. We must now watch something else that we were not used to watch. The challenge of surveillance is to target populations whose integration conditions seem real. Young people who are no longer distinguished from other young people in society.

New structural reforms[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The great debate that is opening up and how to do proximity monitoring and how to rethink proximity monitoring. This is the method of community policing inspired by British methods. The police are in society not being an external body. The issue of security, since terrorism has changed, must be done with society. A dialogue must be built with the population to inform the police of threats and field information. It is a different concept of democracy. Switzerland is built on the principle of security. The denunciation is experienced in the Swiss model as an institutional model.

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Since 2006, the doctrine of counter-terrorism has been based on four principles:

  1. consolidation of the vigilance of all and for all;
  2. Reiterated surveillance of marginal minorities and young Muslim men under forty years old;
  3. creation of a civil safety culture based on school awareness of prevention;
  4. construction of a "proxemic" security culture of individuals guaranteeing the evaluation of the conditions for "acting out".

On 1 July 2008, the DST and the RG were merged to form what Nicolas Sarkozy called a "French FBI". The Central Directorate of Internal Intelligence (DCRI) is created to ensure efficient and effective management. Reconstructions of organizations appear in order to ensure the monopoly of the connection of information gathering and intelligence analysis on the national territory in relation to society. The relevance of the separation between internal and external security is questioned.

The failures of the young man from Toulouse, Merah[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The Merah case is an absolute failure. A young person from Toulouse is supervised by the police, summoned by the general intelligence several times. There is a paradox because it is spotted, but the spinning loosens at the most important moment. He travels to Syria, Afghanistan, Turkey and Pakistan without suspicion by the intelligence services despite occasional investigations. Merah had been known to the intelligence services since 2006 and was only monitored between 2009 and 2010.

The survey carried out at the request of DCRI by the local branch updates its Islamist profile without any reaction from central management. On March 11, 2012, the first murders begin when he is no longer under surveillance for two months. This results in highlighting the failure of the measures taken by the DCRI with inadequate surveillance, a weak territorial intelligence network, and a lack of a common culture between actors. The need for further reforms was raised.

A new administrative architecture for the fight against terrorism in 2013[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

We will try to strengthen security and territorial intelligence at the domestic level, we will try to fill the gaps in DCRI by building intelligence systems on the ground. We see how homegrown jihadism moves the frontiers of intelligence. The threat is no longer an external threat, but it is now a domestic threat that can be grasped through the manufacture of a new type of domestic intelligence that must go further since it is impossible to rely on conventional information systems.

The reform began in June 2013, affecting the institutional structures and the very functioning of the police, as the national gendarmerie was also entrusted with an internal intelligence mission. The primacy of territorial intelligence is consolidated by the capacity of the national gendarmerie to integrate domestic intelligence. The DCRI is renamed the Directorate General of Homeland Security[Directorate-General for Internal Security] to be the equivalent of the DGSE on the domestic level. If we have created an area of internal freedom of movement with Schengen, the birth of new terrorist violence is re-examining this area of freedom.

To fight directly against homegrown jihadism are taken new measures. We see a return of cooperation between States to try to control the flow of young people, as with the establishment of cooperation with Turkey to better identify and apprehend young French jihadists leaving for Syria. A young person who goes to fight in any civil conflict is guilty in the eyes of French justice. This pattern of violence restores the idea that borders manufacture control. These measures are also a more sustained control of national borders to prevent the departure of minors, in particular, or the implementation of a policy of prevention of persons detected to enable them to leave the "process of jihadist indoctrination". Based on the Channel programme in England, a green phone is being set up as if to provide information on suspicious everyday activities.

The new security concept makes a very strong conceptual leap, displacing the conceptual level by saying that for the new anti-terrorist security to work, there must be a meeting of two types of expertise: that is, the expertise of the security services must meet with a layman's expertise. In other words, security means no longer dissociating scholarly expertise from profane expertise. The population has profane expertise because they live the daily routine of observing things. This justifies no longer considering the inhabitant or the urban dweller as a spectator or victim of violence, but as a potential actor in the management of this violence in the same way as security specialists.

Conclusion[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

The awareness of homegrown jihadism is recent. The attacks in London and Madrid have awakened the European chancelleries with a major event that is breaking up. It is a continuation of the discovery of Al-Qaida's globalized terrorism. It is very difficult to say to ourselves today that we are in something that is going to go up or if we are going towards something that is going to go down. For some, the Alqaidean reconfigurations as with AQIM make that homegrown terrorism would have no reason not to continue. The security issue is complicated because the evaluation makes it possible to define means is committed to the issue of resource allocation and weighting. With the Merah case is highlighted that there is structure, a system and complicity. We must get rid of the romantic idea that they are just individuals, absolutely all alone, but that homegrown jihadism must be seen as a device and a complex refocused on individuals that work well. Even in homegrown jihadism theory, it is necessary to get rid of the theory of the lone wolf to redefine the criteria that participate in the process of radicalization that engages a process of logic of action.

The paradigm of internal security - external security is being challenged. We enter into changes in policing systems based on the integration of community policing, which is the concept of field intelligence and surveillance capable of understanding local situations in real time. The armies have invested the city as an object of study, the French army has elaborated a manual to know how to intervene in the "suburbs". What is at stake is not how to get the army to intervene in the cities, but rather how to build an understanding of what is happening. We must go down to the level of the inhabitants in order to understand what is really happening.

Homegrown jihadism justifies stricter control of national and European borders. May affect the concept of free movement of persons contained for Europe in the Schengen agreements. It justifies the strengthening of international cooperation in both intelligence and mutual legal assistance as a real threat and gives rise in the rule of law to initial institutional reforms.

In October 2013, France and Spain signed a cooperation agreement aimed at promoting the exchange of information without delay by setting up joint investigation teams in charge of combating terrorism. Criminal criminalisation of terrorist acts committed abroad by its own nationals without waiting for a terrorist offence to be committed on its national soil is on the agenda of European countries. The fight against homegrown jihadism seems to be at the origin of important future changes in the field of public action and the administrative architecture of the fight against terrorism in the rule of law.

Annexes[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

  • Malet, David. Foreign Fighters: Transnational Identity in Civil Conflicts

References[modifier | modifier le wikicode]

  1. "Les Ados Djihadistes Français Sont-ils Des Criminels Ou Des Victimes?" Slate.fr. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 July 2014. <http://www.slate.fr/story/85219/les-ados-djihadistes-francais-sont-ils-des-criminels-ou-des-victimes>.
  2. Page personnelle de Rémi Baudoui sur le site de l'Université de Genève