On December 2, a Paris court sentenced Nicolas Moreau to 10 years in prison for criminal association with a terrorist organization. The 32-year old did not hear the sentence in person, having refused to leave Fleury-Merogis, the prison where he was being held on remand.
Prosecutors argued the former fisherman from Nantes presented an "extremely dangerous threat," warning he risked returning to jihadism once released. During the trial, Moreau had warned judges that he would "take up arms" again if given a lengthy sentence, as a "heavy penalty" would make it harder for him to reintegrate into society.
#France — Jihadi Nicolas Moreau condemned to 10 years in prison.— Terror Events (@TerrorEvents) January 2, 2017
Moreau joined Daesh in January 2014 and carried out a number of roles for the organization, including manning guard towers and running a restaurant in the Daesh claimed capital, Raqqa.
However, he revealed over the course of the trial that he also participated in several "actions" during his time there, including a 'inghimasi' — typically regarded as a kamikaze operation by Daesh, which he claimed to have had a 10 percent chance of surviving. He eventually fled the terror organization in June 2015, claiming to be appalled by the "excesses" of the group, wishing instead to get married and return to normal civilian life.
"They abuse and torture prisoners, they sever heads… they make misery even for Muslims," he said at the trial.
Born in South Korea and adopted by a French family at the age of four, Moreau fell into delinquency in his teenage years, converting to Islam in jail after being sentenced to five years for violent robbery, and subsequently being radicalized over the course of his sentence.
In November 2014, Flavien Moreau, Nicolas' brother, became the first French citizen to be imprisoned for joining Daesh. He spent a few weeks in Daesh-held territory in 2012, but was unable to cope with the group's stringent 'no smoking' policy and returned to France.
He was sentenced to seven years in prison. Then, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve estimated there were around 930 French residents involved with the militant group or planning to travel to Syria and Iraq.
With Daesh in retreat in Iraq and Syria, the prospect of jihadists returning to their home countries is becoming an ever-increasing concern for governments the world over. In December 2016, the Norwegian government announced it would deprive so-called "foreign warriors" of their citizenship, following the implementation of similar policies in Denmark and the UK. According to estimates by the Norwegian Police Security Service, at least 90 left Norway to fight with Daesh.
The same month, the Tunisian government also announced it has jailed or closely monitored around 800 fighters who had returned from foreign battlefields in the past decade, and all future returning fighters would be immediately arrested and judged according to the country's counter-terrorism laws.
"Some are in prison, some are under house arrest and others are under close surveillance," government spokesperson Iyed Dahmani is reported to have said. Roughly 3,000 Tunisians have joined the ranks of jihadist groups in neighboring Libya, as well as Syria and Iraq.
In November, a report issued by the German Federal Criminal Police Office found 48 percent of the German citizens who left to join Daesh and subsequently returned were still devoted to the cause, and 8 percent had returned only to retrieve or procure equipment and/or money.