Le Monde tells the story of Mourad Benchellali, a French citizen captured in Pakistan in 2001 at the age of 19, who was interviewed by RFI’s Alison Hird last month.
Washington claimed he'd attended an al-Qaida training camp in Afghanistan and was likely to participate in fighting against US and allied forces. He was detained in the Guantanamo Bay prison camp before being transferred to French custody in 2004. He was tried and convicted in France but the conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeals.
Much of the Le Monde story revisits old ground. The mag reminds us that Benchellali has said for a decade that he was not a jihadist. Rather, he'd made the mistake of listening to his older brother and going to Afghanistan on what he thought was "a dream vacation". What's new, says Le Monde, is that people is France, including politicians and members of the intelligence services, have begun to believe him and listen to what he says.
No longer part of the problem, he's part of the solution; discouraging young people who might be tempted by Islamist extremism. It's quite an undertaking. Benchellali told the mag that only now are we starting to understand that the temptation of jihad isn't confined to "popular districts", a euphemism for poor suburbs inhabited by immigrant families. It reaches into all corners of society.