In the weeks since the attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the country’s government has spent $480 million to stop Islamic radicalization. One of its new materials: a checklist of the “first signs” a person may be becoming a terrorist sympathizer, including “suddenly changing eating habits,” “not listening to music” and “rejecting family members.”
Other symptoms listed in the handy infographic include frequenting extremist websites, changing their clothing habits and dropping out of school.
The hitch is that many of French government’s alleged symptoms of jihadi behavior mimic the behaviors of socially withdrawn young men, including those who are most prone to recruitment by terrorist cells.
The Daily Caller News Foundation entered several of the checklist’s symptoms into the popular online self-diagnosis tool on WebMD, and found possible conditions ranging from adult depression to bulimia to mononucleosis.
The neighbors of brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, the Charlie Hebdo gunmen, reported unusual behavior and a “cache of arms” in their apartment before the attacks took place. The example of the young men, who were relatively impious marijuana smokers and pizza deliverymen before they were radicalized by an al-Qaida recruiting cell in their majority-Muslim Paris suburb, has been scrutinized by those wishing to avoid further terror attacks on European soil. (RELATED: Terror Widow Flees To Syria As New Paris Jihadi Facts Emerge)
Other French government anti-radicalization efforts since the attacks have gone into a website called “Stop Djihadisme,” which includes satirical recruitment videos pointing out that instead of advancing Islam, Islamic terrorism disproportionately kills Muslims.
Most notably, French authorities faced significant criticism for arresting dozens of citizens who made remarks critical of the magazine Charlie Hebdo. On Wednesday, police questioned an 8 year old who refused to stand for a moment of silence in memory of those killed during the attacks. (RELATED: Championing Free Speech, France Clamps Down On Incitement)
France’s Muslims constitute 5 to 10 percent of the country’s population, compared to around 1 percent in the United States. The U.S. has made serious efforts to combat radicalization as well, with mixed results. Its most notable project, the @ThinkAgainTurnAway Twitter account, uses a U.S. government logo and attempts to dissuade potential terrorist sympathizers; on Wednesday, it welcomed France’s new website to the anti-terror coalition. (RELATED: $1.3 Billion Later, Government Can’t Tell If It’s Beating ISIS At Propaganda)
Experts estimate that over a thousand French citizens have left the country to fight for the Islamic State terror group since its rise to prominence last year.