Flavien Moreau, 27, was the first French citizen to be tried for his short-lived involvement in the terrorist group ISIS. He received the maximum sentence offered by the prosecution--seven years in prison. But why, in January 2013, was he finally caught? French police didn't invade a Syrian camp to extradite him, did they?
Definitely not. He actually came back of his own accord, because an even more lethal force was calling him: smoking. France 24 reports on the very strange case:
"I really struggled with not smoking," Moreau testified before the court. "It was forbidden by the katiba [a group of Islamist militants]. I had brought Nicorette gum with me, but it wasn't enough. So, I left my gun with my emir and I left."
Moreau briefly returned to France, but had not yet given up on his dream of returning to Syria. He tried on several occasions to fin dhis way back to "the land of jihad," but because his name was now known to counter-terrorist services in Europe and North Africa, he was refused entry to a number of countries.
Moreau seems like a troubled kid -- he is South Korean, but was adopted by a French family when he was two, and was involved in a number of criminal activities growing up, leading to 13 convictions (prior to his arrest last year) for a number of crimes including assault and armed robbery.
Still, if his confession is true, only one thing could lure him away from what would have been his most terrible crime yet: cigarettes.
42 million adults in the United States still smoke, with 480,000 deaths caused each year by smoke and secondhand smoke. A nonsmoker will live on average ten more years than a smoker will, and it takes 15 years for a former smoker's risk of coronary heart disease to drop to the level of a non-smoker.
The American Cancer Society has claimed the third Thursday of November as the annual Great American Smokeout, a day dedicated to encouraging smokers to make a plan to quit, or to plan in advance and quit that day. So, in honor of this day, I'll make a plea: break your addiction to the one vice that will ruin your life even more than running away to join the jihad.