An In-Depth Look At One Of The Facebook/Twitter Networks Of French-Speaking Jihadis Fighting In Syria: Glorifying Jihad In Syria, Condemning “Heretical” France

By: S. Benjamin*

February 17, 2014

The forces fighting in Syria against the Bashar Al-Assad regime include many combatants from outside Syria, including Westerners. Among them are speakers of French, many of whom are active on social media, mainly on Facebook and Twitter. On their accounts they provide freely-accessible information about their lives in Syria and advice for young men who wish to join them, including details about their journey to Syria (such as the route they took and the cost of the trip), about the military training they receive, and about their daily lives in Syria (for instance details about the cost of living, equipment that should be brought to the country, and more). In addition, they provide details about the fighting itself, describing the gear and combat routines of their units, and the battles in which they have participated, both agaisnt the Assad forces and agaisnt other rebels, such as the Free Syrian Army.

This report is based on a comprehensive review of the public sections of 56 active Facebook and Twitter accounts belonging to French-speaking jihad fighters operating in Syria. The accounts form a network, since most of them link to the Facebook account of one prominent individual (French Salafi preacher Jean-Louis Denis, on whom more below), and many of them have other links in common as well. Moreover, comments and photos on the accounts indicate that many of the account owners are in direct contact with one another or have mutual acquaintences. They exchange messages and share articles and photos, and do not hesitate to identify each other on the photographs and comment on them. This exchange of information made it possible to cross-reference and corroborate findings.

Below are some details about the accounts and their owners, followed by profiles of a sample of individual fighters.

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