Two French teenagers were taken into custody in the southwestern city of Toulouse Wednesday, shortlyafter they were caught en route to Syria, where they hoped to join Islamist rebels and extremists in their fight against President Bashar al-Assad.
The boys, aged 15 and 16, were brought to a local branch of the country’s domestic intelligence agency, the DCRI, for interrogation, according to media reports.
Among the many questions facing investigators is how the pair, both students at Toulouse’s Lycée des Arènes secondary school, became radicalised, and whether or not they acted on their own or had help from an organised network or specific individuals.
The pair flew to Turkey from France on January 6, with the apparent intention of crossing over the border into Syria. While the 15-year-old did make it across, he was unable to reach the front line.
They were eventually apprehended and repatriated to France. The older of the two was sent home on Sunday, while his schoolmate’s return was delayed until Tuesday, due to complications linked to his entering Syria.
The case has highlighted growing concerns in France over the number of its citizens travelling to Syria to join the ranks of Islamist forces fighting against Assad’s government.
According to French Interior Minister Manuel Valls, as many as 700 French nationals may have already joined the conflict in Syria, roughly one fifth of whom are believed to be converts to Islam. Culled..