Turkey has indicated that it intends to return foreign jihadists captured in Syria to their country of origin. The French will be receiving be ten in number.
“We will start from Monday,” Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said in a speech in Ankara. “No need to run in all directions: we will send you back the ISIS members. They are yours, do what you want,” he added on Friday, November 8.
The whole of Europe will be affected by this measure. In the case of France, there are ten jihadists, confirmed the Quai d’Orsay.
The day before, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had claimed that 1 150 ISIS members were currently in Turkish jails. Although his government regularly calls on European states to recover their nationals who have joined the ranks of ISIS, governments are generally reluctant.
“We are not a hotel for Daesh [ISIS, ed.] members,” the Turkish interior minister said recently. “Whether it pleases you or not, whether or not you revoke their nationality, we will send you back these ISIS members, your own people, your own nationals,” he insisted on Friday.
The Turkish president, meanwhile, has counted some 287 jihadists captured since the outbreak of the Ankara offensive in Syria on 9 October. While Turkey has long been suspected of letting jihadists cross its border into Syria after the start of the country’s conflict since 2011, it joined the anti-jihadist coalition in 2015.
Turkey played the most important role in the conflict in Syria, with weapons being smuggled from Libya through Turkey to be delivered to the so-called “Syrian rebels”. In the course of almost a decade, thousands of foreign jihadists traveled through Turkey to join the various groups fighting against the Syrian government.
Last month, the lawyer of the Turkish president filed a complaint against the French weekly Le Point. He believes that their report on “The Eradicator” was an “insult to the Head of State”.
Erdogan’s censorship has crossed the Bosphorus with the Attorney General’s Ankara office complained about Le Point “insulting the head of state,” state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
Two journalists are even mentioned by name: Etienne Gernelle, director of the newspaper, and Romain Gubert, the “international” editor of Le Point.
“We detailed his ethnic cleansing operation against the Kurds of Syria,” says Etienne Gernelle. “It makes sense that Erdogan does not like it. Of course, we will not remove a word from what we have written.”
According to the journalist, “the fact that he is attacking us for ‘insulting the Head of State’, a sort of lèse-majesté crime, tends to confirm our previous coverage of him, whose title was ‘The dictator'”.
Etienne Gernelle said while “many journalists” are imprisoned in the country, “Erdogan may think that his urges for censorship can also be exercised in countries where the press is free. The hubris of the master of Ankara visibly knows few limits.”