A French court on Tuesday handed a 12-year jail term to a computer technician who travelled to Syria to join ISIS and trained to fight under the ringleader of the 2015 Paris attacks.
Reda Hame, 34, who was convicted of taking part in a criminal conspiracy aimed at harming people, received weapons training and a mission from Abdelhamid Abaaoud during his eight-day stay in Syria in the summer of 2015.
Abaaoud, who co-ordinated the November 2015 attacks that killed 130 people in Paris, taught him how to fire an assault rifle and handle a grenade.
He then dropped him off at the Turkish border with orders to return home and carry out an attack on behalf of ISIS.
Hame told investigators that Abaaoud, who was killed in a shootout with French police after the Paris attacks, asked him if he would be prepared to shoot into a crowd, such as at a rock concert.
But the Paris native, who was arrested on his return to France, insisted that he never had any intention of following the orders.
Hame, who described himself as an ISIS deserter, told the court he only pretended to accept his mission to escape the horrors of the Syrian war and regretted enlisting with the extremist group.
The prosecution challenged his change of heart, showing him as a dutiful ISIS soldier who travelled to Syria to join the group “at a time when the most hardline, those who will go on to attack Europe and France, are leaving [France for Syria]”.
In sentencing Hame to 12 years in jail, the court “showed clemency,” said his lawyer, Archibald Celeyron. Prosecutors sought a 20-year term.
Hundreds of young French radicals travelled to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS before US-led coalition forces dislodged the insurgents from theirs last holdouts last year.
Dozens have returned home and been jailed in France but scores more remain in camps in Syria.