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Gitmo veteran steering Europe youths away from jihadHe learned warfare in an Al-Qaeda training camp, and did time at both Guantanamo and a French prison. With such a resume, Mourad Benchellali may seem an unlikely youth counselor – but he is telling his story to young Europeans, warning them against the lure of jihad.The 33-year-old Frenchman is one of a small number of Europeans presenting their jihadi past as an example for others not to follow. Many see men like him as a powerful tool to deter youth from heading to Syria – while Western governments are wary of them.European officials are creating parental hotlines and other tools to stem the flow of hundreds of youth to Syria, but lack the know-how to contain the exodus. Yet they remain suspicious of men like Benchellali, fearing returnees may have a secret mission to pull youths into extremism rather than steer them away.Benchellali is perhaps the only returnee in France now offering a reality check to those tempted by jihad, a stark story of misguided youth that may mirror the naive impulses of those setting off for Syria today.
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