At least 271 French jihadis have returned to the country after fighting for Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, Interior Minister Gerrard Collomb said in an interview Sunday.
An estimated 700 French nationals left the country to fight in the Middle East. Returnees include 217 adults and 54 minors with some currently in detention.
Collomb warned that the terror threat remains “very high” with seven foiled attacks since the start of the year.
“The terrorist threat remains very high,” Collomb told Le Journal du Dimanche. “The Champs-Elysees has been targeted twice, and our services have foiled seven attacks attempts since the beginning of the year.”
France has been in a state of emergency for almost two years. President Emmanuel Macron has promised to end it by the end of the 2017 by passing legislation that would turn most of the powers into permanent laws.
Collomb said 18,500 people in the country are monitored for radicalized behavior. The government recently shut down its only de-radicalization center after failing to attract radicalized individuals to change their lifestyle.
“It is obviously a failure,” Collomb told Le Journal du Dimanche. “Designed to accommodate 25 residents on a voluntary basis, the center actually received only nine. None of these youths have completed the program.”
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