Turkish FM rules out British ‘police spotters’ in Istanbul

Turkish FM rules out British ‘police spotters’ in Istanbul

BERLIN - Anadolu Agency
Turkish FM rules out British ‘police spotters’ in Istanbul

Suspected passengers wait with police officers at the passport control check desk of the international airport in Istanbul. AFP Photo

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has ruled out placing British “police spotters” in Istanbul in order to stop foreigners from travelling across the Turkish border to join jihadi militant groups in Syria and Iraq.

“This is out of the question. We already have great cooperation with the U.K. on intelligence sharing,” Çavuşoğlu said regarding claims in the U.K that British police spotters might be placed in Istanbul.

Keith Vaz, the chair of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee said on March 2 that “police spotters need to be placed in Istanbul so there can be immediate action taken.”

However, speaking at the 49th International Tourism Bourse in the German capital Berlin on March 4, Çavuşoğlu said measures are already being increased.

“We are increasing our measures day-by-day, both at our border gates and airports … Foreign fighters are trying every possible way to join Daesh and other militant groups,” Çavuşoğlu said, using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

He also highlighted that Ankara, since January, had deported 1,112 foreign fighters who were allegedly trying to join ISIL.

“At least half of them were unknown to us before they came,” he said.

Vaz had underlined that 22 girls have fled U.K. in the past year to join ISIL.

Recently, three British students, Shamima Begum, 15, Amira Abase, 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, left Bethnal Green Academy in east London in February for Turkey, reportedly to cross into Syria to join ISIL.     

Istanbul police’s surveillance video showed the trio at a major bus station in the city on Feb. 17. A British police team arrived in Turkey on Feb. 23 to assist in investigations into the missing girls.