Turkey arrests French citizen bound for Syria

Turkey arrests French citizen bound for Syria

ANKARA – Agence France-Presse
Turkey arrests French citizen bound for Syria

Members of the Iraqi army and Shi'ite fighters launch a mortar toward ISIL militants on the outskirts of the city of Falluja, Iraq. REuters photo

Turkish authorities have detained and then deported a French national who arrived in the country seeking to join jihadists in Syria, an official said on May 22.

The man, identified only as B.T., had landed on May 21 night at Sabiha Gökçen Airport in Istanbul on a flight from Milan, the Turkish official, who asked not to be named, told AFP.

After arousing the suspicion of border police, he was detained and questioned.  

"After a long and detailed interview, B.T. confessed he was going to Adana [in southern Turkey] on his way to join a terrorist group in Syria," the official said.

The man was deported back to Italy as the country of the flight's origin, with the French authorities kept fully informed, he added.

Turkey has been at pains in the last months to stress it is doing all it can to stop would-be militants from Europe joining Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) jihadists who have seized swathes of neighboring Syria and Iraq.

The government says it has put over 13,500 foreign citizens - 18 percent of whom are of European or North American origin - from 98 countries on an entry blacklist to stop them travelling to join ISIL. 

Turkey, which shares a total of 1,300 kilometers of borders with Iraq and Syria, has angrily rejected suggestions it has not done enough to halt the flow of militants.

It said it has already deported more than 1,350 people suspected of seeking to join ISIL and has set up special "risk centers" at airports to question suspect travelers.