Some 20 percent of French Islamic State fighters have been collecting social benefits from France to help finance the terror group, newspaper Le Figaro reported Thursday.
Jihadis have claimed unemployment benefits and family allowance for years while living in Syria. Over the past five years, some 500,000 euros ($583,200) have gone directly from the French taxpayers to the terror group, according to the report.
Investigators have uncovered a scam that involved 420 fraudulent withdrawals by jihadis in 2016 alone. At least 210 people received the money after family members withdrew cash at employment centers across the country.
“Armed with their cards and photos, the parents were able to access the funding from the Unemployment Agency or the Family Allowances and send it to combat zones, mostly via Turkey,” an investigator told Le Figaro.
Other European countries have uncovered similar problems.
Close to every person who left Sweden to fight for terror groups in the Middle East received welfare, according to a government report.
A study of 300 Swedish citizens who fought in Syria and Iraq between 2013 and 2016 shows jihadis are getting increasingly good at getting away with welfare fraud. The individuals often use a person in Sweden to handle paperwork and create the illusion that they’re still in the country.
“It’s not surprising, we’ve seen the same pattern in other countries,” Magnus Ranstorp, one of the authors behind the report, told state broadcaster SVT. “What’s most surprising is that close to everyone received it in some form. The oversight process needs to get better.”