Reports of French ex-military turning to jihad first appeared on Radio France Internationale (RFI) and in L'Opinion daily on Wednesday.
An anonymous defense ministry source later confirmed the information to AFP.
"We estimate around a dozen former troops have joined these networks," the source said. "Our concern is not former soldiers... It's preventing the phenomenon of radicalization within our forces."
Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, however, would not directly comment on the issue at a Wednesday press conference on France’s new anti-terrorism measures.
"The cases of former soldiers being tempted by jihadist adventure are extremely rare," was all he said.
And they're not all Arab/Muslim immigrants.
“Others are explosives experts, young people in their twenties. Some have been converted [to Islam], others are from Arab-Muslim culture,” the RFI report says.The Defense Ministry is worried about radicalization within its forces, not just former soldiers.
The Defense Ministry plans to monitor its recruits as well as ex-soldiers more closely to prevent possible radicalization. The army’s 1,000-strong internal intelligence unit will get 65 extra staff for that purpose, Le Drian announced on Wednesday.