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The LA Times profiles Europe's Boys of Jihad.
PARIS ? The case file of the French homeboys who joined the Iraqi jihad contains a startling photo.One might almost suspect some grooming process might be involved...
It's the mug shot of Salah, the alleged point man in Damascus, Syria, who authorities say arranged for guns and safe passage into Iraq for extremists from Paris. Salah has a serious expression beneath a short Afro-style haircut. He looks as if he's posing, reluctantly, for a middle school yearbook.
When Salah left for Damascus with the jihadis last summer, he was 13 years old.
"The trajectory is changing," said Marc Sageman, a forensic psychiatrist at the University of Pennsylvania and a former CIA officer. "Extremism is now appealing to younger and younger people."
Update From the story: "At an age when angry teens in Los Angeles drift into street gangs, some of their peers in Europe plunge into global networks that send them to train, fight and die in far-off lands"
Along with longtime resentment and alienation experienced by some in immigrant communities, technology such as computers and Arabic-language satellite TV plays a major role in molding militants earlier, European officials say. Internet sites and chat rooms have become a virtual sanctuary, widening access to propaganda and training materials for an emerging "second generation" of extremists.Why would they use street gangs as comparison when the elements of internet chat, disaffected youth, and a murderous organization of fanatics has a much more obvious parallel?
"This generation of young kids are far more Internet-focused than guys who are only 10 years older," Sageman said.
Last year, a group of young Internet enthusiasts was charged with unleashing terrorism in the Netherlands: the killing of filmmaker Theo van Gogh and a plot to assassinate politicians. Police captured Jason Walters, 19, in a raid that left him and three officers wounded. His 17-year-old brother was also jailed.