'You will die alone', French government warns would-be extremists

A screengrab of the video on the website showing a message which reads: "You will discover hell on earth and die alone, far away from home". The website is a move by the French government to use social media to discourage would-be extremists. --
A screengrab of the video on the website showing a message which reads: "You will discover hell on earth and die alone, far away from home". The website is a move by the French government to use social media to discourage would-be extremists. -- SCREENGRAB FROM VIDEO ON WWW.STOP-DJIHADISME.GOUV.FR

PARIS (AFP) - "You will discover hell on earth, and will die alone" - that is the stark message from the French government in a new social media campaign aimed at discouraging would-be extremists.

The first video to appear on www.stop-djihadisme.gouv.fr features a series of typical promises made by extremist recruiters, followed by an opposing view from the government - all against a graphic backdrop of crucifixions, headless corpses and bodies being thrown into pits.

"They tell you, 'Join us and come help the children of Syria'," the text reads over images from wars in the Middle East. "In reality you will be complicit in the massacre of civilians." Others are directed towards women.

"They tell you: 'Come start a family with one of our heroes.' In reality you will raise your children in war and terror."

The website is an attempt by the French government to counter the sophisticated recruiting efforts of extremist groups, that have helped encourage hundreds of its citizens to leave for Syria and Iraq in recent years.

It also features sections such as "Understanding the terrorist threat" and "Decrypting jihadist propaganda", featuring expert interviews, historic explainers and links to more detailed information.

Among the advice to young people are ways of spotting early signs of an unhealthy interest in extremism: "Watch out for friends who become more distant and stop listening to music." It remains to be seen whether a government-sponsored message will carry much weight with radicals who consider the French state to be apostate, but those behind the campaign remain confident.

"We will broadcast this video widely on social networks in order to reach the maximum number of young people vulnerable to these calls. We hope it will shock them," said Christian Gravel, head of the government's communications department.

"And the site offers solutions and help for young people, their families and their friends."