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Annales médico-psychologiques
Sous presse. Epreuves corrigées par l'auteur. Disponible en ligne depuis le vendredi 11 mars 2016
Doi : 10.1016/j.amp.2015.12.011
Received : 10 November 2015 ;  accepted : 20 November 2015
Qui sont les djihadistes français ? Analyse de 12 cas pour contribuer à l’élaboration de profils et à l’évaluation du risque de passage à l’acte
Who are the French jihadists? Analysis of 12 cases to help develop profiles and assessment of the risk of acting out

Hélène Bazex a, , Jean-Yves Mensat b
a Cour d’Appel de Limoges, Direction Interrégionale des services pénitentiaires de Toulouse, 33100 Toulouse, France 
b Cour d’Appel de Limoges, 87000 Limoges, France 

Auteur correspondant.

L’accroissement des actes de terrorisme commis en Europe par l’« État islamique » entraîne la communauté des sciences humaines à contribuer à la connaissance psychologique et à la réflexion sur la prise en charge des personnes parties combattre en Syrie. Cette publication a pour objectif d’illustrer des apports de la littérature scientifique internationale par une analyse thématique (biographie, relation à la religion, motivations du départ en Syrie…) de 12 cas de jeunes djihadistes français partis combattre en Syrie. Ces réflexions permettent de dégager des pistes en matière d’élaboration de profils cliniques et d’évaluation de leur risque de passage à l’acte et de violence.

The full text of this article is available in PDF format.

The growth of terrorism of the Islamic State in Europe leads the Human Sciences community to contribute to the psychological knowledge and the reconsideration of management of individuals who went to fight in Syria. This publication aims to illustrate the contributions of the international scientific literature by a thematic analysis (biography, the relation to the religion, the motivations of the departure in Syria) of 12 cases of young French jihadists who went to fight in Syria.


The French jihadists were encountered in psychological expertise while they were in custody for criminal association made for the commission of offenses of a terrorist nature.

Materials and methods

Two separate interviews were conducted with each young man, combining active listening techniques to confrontation techniques speech to the evidence collected in the investigation files.


One can speculate that these young people who face a lack of transmission of cultural and religious values have chosen to over-invest in the religious sphere in a movement of omnipotence. For some, adolescence was also a period of entry into delinquency, consisting of robberies, fights and trafficking, including drugs. These delinquent behaviors can also be trivialized by some. If they all manifest the wish to structure their love life, they seem to have experienced setbacks, some already divorced, most already have two young children. For most people interviewed, schooling was marked by difficulties and failures. We observed an early school leaving. None of the people interviewed seem to have actually invested their professional live. We observed high variability criminal record but also for religious motives. Some showed only partial perception and utility of religion, while others adhered to the rigoristic religious beliefs. In all interviewees, the desire to fight in Syria was, according to them, motivated by the need of helping the Syrian people victim of Bashar al-Assad regime. For most of them, the lack of safe everyday anchor would germinate the decision to go to Syria as part of a headlong rush of a disappointment in love or feeling empty. Internet played a fundamental role in the decision to go to Syria. Belief in obtaining recognition and a special status, due to support for the Syrian population, have also played an important role. They said that all derive from their experience in Syria, frustration and disappointment, in view of their hope to contribute to the fight for the benefit of the Syrian people. They would each be trained in weapons handlings. It is also important to note that most young people met were able to present an ability to adapt to the expectations of his interlocutor, to hide an emotional state and rationalize motivations. The elements obtained through clinical interviews with persons accused in connection with a “criminal association for the commission of a terrorist related offense” have allowed to highlight three specific “profiles” which we can describe the salient aspects of their personality: The “ambitious offender”, the “converted preacher” and the “connected criminal”. These clinical descriptions also allow to propose reflections on the assessment of the risk of violence and acting out among jihadists returning from Syria.


Specific questions on their ability to concealment are the major issue for psychological evaluation. The aim is to identify the authentic “repentant” one (already involved in a deradicalization process) from the “sleeping agent” (who is still committed in islamist networks and can provide a possible reactivation in a violent action).

The full text of this article is available in PDF format.

Mots clés : Cas clinique, Djihadiste, Fanatisme, Passage à l’acte, Profil psychologique, Psychopathologie, Sociologie, Terrorisme

Keywords : Acting out, Clinical case, Djihadist, Evaluation, Fanaticism, Psychological profile, Psychopathology, Sociology, Terrorism

© 2016  Published by Elsevier Masson SAS.
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