The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

France turns to YouTube to stop would-be jihadists joining the Islamic State

Screengrab from French government video "Ils te disent." The caption reads: "In reality, you will be complicit in the massacre of civilians." (YouTube)
Placeholder while article actions load

The French government released a video through its official social media channels, warning would-be jihadists against joining the Islamic State fighting in Iraq and Syria. The video, titled "Ils te disent ..." (or "They tell you ...") presents the supposed myths peddled online by Islamic State recruiters, and juxtaposes them with what French authorities deem the grim truth.

"Sacrifice yourself by our side for a just cause," reads one myth. It's swiftly countered: "In reality, you'll find hell on earth and you'll die alone, far from home."

The initiative is part of a wider $480 million anti-terror effort initiated by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, which came in the wake of the shocking Charlie Hebdo terror attack  this month. This includes the creation of nearly 3,000 government jobs dedicated to "fighting terrorism," tougher law enforcement and "cyber patrols" aimed at countering radicalization online.

France, which is home to Europe's largest population of Muslims, is particularly worried about extremism growing within its borders. The numbers of French nationals joining the Islamic State surged in recent months, as WorldViews discussed here. A new estimate places the figure around 1,200, nearly triple the previously known number.

The French anti-jihadist video echoes the social media efforts of the State Department, whose "Think Again Turn Away" Twitter account actively hounds Islamic State sympathizers online and attempts to dispel jihadist propaganda found on social media. (Though some critics consider the approach counter-productive and "embarrassing.")

"Join us and come aid the children of Syria," says one of the myths spelled out in the video. "You will be complicit in the massacre of civilians," comes the rebuttal.

You can watch the full video here. (Viewers may find some of the imagery to be quite graphic.)