When he thinks of Mohamed Merah, the Islamist attacker who shot Jewish schoolchildren to death in Toulouse before dying in a gunfight with the police in March, Omar Djellil sees himself.
"I was once a bit like him," he says. "There's a Merah in all of us."
Djellil can remember well his years as a teenaged ruffian in one of the roughest neighborhoods of the northeastern French city of Reims as well as his years at a mosque in Bordeaux. It was a time when he also believed that his Muslim faith required him to join the armed struggle to re-establish a caliphate.
"I narrowly avoided a similar fate," says Djellil, a 41-year-old man with a neat circle beard on his youthful face. He's sitting behind the register at a telephone shop in Marseille primarily frequented by Moroccans and Algerians.