The New Face of French Jihad

Fighters of the Islamic State (IS). Image: Day Donaldson/Flickr

This article was originally published by the World Policy Blog on 8 December, 2014.

On Sunday, November 16, the Islamic State posted a video featuring the beheading of one American aid worker and 14 Syrian soldiers. While this macabre ritual has become somewhat routine, this beheading caught the attention of French authorities, who recognized the face of Maxime Hauchard, a 22-year-old man raised in a quiet, rural village of Normandy. He embodies a new generation of fighters recruited from an unexpected landscape and motivated by an entirely different set of reasons than his militant counterparts.