Turkey has deported to France the “Islamic State matchmaker” who lured a British teen bride to Syria as part of a drive to send foreign fighters back to their countries of origin.
Tooba Gondal, 25, is among 11 French nationals that Turkey repatriated early on Monday, according to France’s Centre for Analysis of Terrorism, CAT, citing official sources.
A French judicial source confirmed that four women and their seven children had arrived in France.
Two of the women returned were already targeted by arrest warrants and will soon face a judge, while the other two were sought by police and have been placed in custody, the French source said. The children have been taken into care.
Ms Gondal, from Walthamstow, east London, has been "detained for questioning" and faces terror charges, said CAT. She will then likely be detained while awaiting trial.
She was born in France but moved to UK capital as a child and had British residency.
A source close to the family told The Telegraph they were upset by the UK’s decision to refuse her return.
"Her kids most certainly will go into foster care away from her and any of her family in Britain,” said the source.
Ms Gondal has been accused of acting as an online recruiter and “matchmaker” for the terrorist group by luring women to Syria to marry Isil fighters. Among them was reportedly Bethnal Green schoolgirl Shamima Begum.
She used social media to post images of herself wearing a burqa and holding an assault rifle.
In October, Ms Gondal told the Telegraph how she managed to escape from Ain Issa camp with her two infant children, along with hundreds of other foreign suspected Isil women in a mass prison break after Turkey launched its offensive.
She expressed a desire to be sent to the UK or Turkey.
“I want to go home, see my family,” the former Goldsmiths, University of London, student said via WhatsApp messages. “But if I am not able, I want to seek refuge in Turkey."
Married and widowed three times while living in Isil’s “caliphate”, she was banned from re-entering the UK last November by a Home Office exclusion order, but her three-year-old son is entitled to citizenship because of his British father.
However, her 18-month-old daughter’s late father was Russian.
Last month, Turkey stepped up the return of suspected foreign Isil members – either held in Turkish prisons or in Syria – back to their countries of origin, saying Turkey was "not a hotel" for foreign fighters.
The Turkish interior ministry on Monday confirmed it had sent 11 French relatives of suspected "terrorist fighters" back home.
According to CAT, one of the deported women was Amandine Le Coz, who had been married to a Moroccan militant killed in Syria. She joined Isil with her husband in 2014.
The French foreign ministry and interior ministry declined to comment.
Turkey stepped up its deportation of foreign fighters after criticism from Western countries, in particular, France, over its military offensive against Kurdish forces in Syria.
The move has created a conundrum for European governments over how to manage the return of radicalised militants, some of them battle-hardened.
Britain, which has taken one of the strongest stances against the return of its nationals, has deprived many of them of their citizenship.
Under a 2014 accord between France and Turkey, Paris agreed to take back jihadists trying to return home from Syria via Turkey and incarcerate them at home. Some 300 French nationals have been thus returned in the past five years.
However, France is keen on foreign suspects being sent for trial near to their place of arrest – notably Iraq, where several of its nationals have recently been handed death sentences.
America last month clashed with Europe over the issue, with Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, insisting they needed to “hold them to account”.
"Coalition members must take back the thousands of foreign terrorist fighters in custody and impose accountability for the atrocities they have perpetrated," he said in a meeting of the international coalition against Isil in Washington DC.
Ankara says it has around 1,200 foreign Isil members in custody.
There are understood to be around 10 British men, 20 women and 30 children, currently detained in Kurdish-run camps and prisons around north-east Syria.
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