A French journalist infiltrated a cell of would-be jihadists, filming them with a hidden camera as they plotted an attack in the name of the Islamic State group, before they were arrested.
The journalist, a Muslim using the pseudonym Said Ramzi, carried out the investigation for a documentary entitled “Allah’s Soldiers” which gives an insight into the minds of young jihadists, and will be shown in France on Monday night.
The journalist said,
"My goal was to understand what was going on inside their heads. One of the main lessons was that I never saw any Islam in this affair. No will to improve the world. Only lost, frustrated, suicidal, easily manipulated youths. They had the misfortune of being born in the era that the Islamic State exists. It is very sad. They are youngsters who are looking for something and that is what they found."
To make contact with the group, Ramzi said the first steps were easy, following and interacting with those preaching jihad on Facebook. Then, he had to meet the person presented as the “emir” of the group, which consisted of about a dozen youths, both ancestral Muslims and converts.
This took place in Chateauroux, a town in the centre-west of France, at an outdoor activities centre that was deserted in winter.
The “emir” was a young French-Turkish citizen named Oussama, and on their first meeting, tried to convince the journalist (known to him as Abu Hamza) that paradise awaits him if he carries out a suicide mission.
He told Ramiz,
"Come, brother, let’s go to paradise, our women are waiting for us there, with angels as servants. You will have a palace, a winged horse of gold and rubies."
Oussama was arrested by Turkish police in Syria for trying to contact ISIS, and was handed back to France where he spent five months in jail before being released.
In January 2015, two brothers attacked the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people.
Ramzi was then sent a message through a woman, in which was laid out a plan of attack: target a night club, shoot “until death”, wait for security forces and set off an explosives vest. However the security forces clamped down on the group at this point, and several members of the group were arrested. One of them who avoided arrest sends a message to the journalist saying: “You’re done for man.”
“That is where my infiltration ended,” said Ramzi.