Anthropologist Dounia Bouzar used to try religious arguments to turn young people away from militant Islam – and failed. So the 51-year-old grandmother developed her own techniques along the lines of Alcoholics Anonymous. Her main rule: Don't try to reason with people.

"Characteristically, a young person who has been recruited ... thinks that he is chosen and that he knows the truth," said the bleach-blond, discreetly watched by three police bodyguards as she sat in a Parisian café. "As soon as you use reason – knowledge – to tackle this type of young person, you are failing."

Bouzar, a Muslim herself, instead uses memories, music and even smells to try to win young militants back. Recruiters have adopted techniques developed by cults, she says, so it takes different skills to break their hold.

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