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American Islamic suspects "stranded on Turkey's border"



  An alleged IS member stands in a no man's land at the Turkey-Greece border near Pazarkule, November 11, 2019

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DHA / DHA / AFP via Getty Images

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9659005] The expelled the man is allegedly a trapped member of the Islamic State group

An American citizen suspected of being an Islamist militant is stranded at the border between Greece and Turkey after Turkey deported him.

The alleged militant was deported on Monday when Turkey began an effort to repatriate captured jihadist fighters held in its prisons.

Greek police say they refused to come in when he tried to cross the border near the Greek city of Kastanies.

The man is reported to have spent the night stuck between the two borders.

He has been named by Turkey's news agency Demiroren as Muhammed Darwis B and is said to be an American citizen of Jordanian descent.

A Turkish official told AFP News Agency that he refused to return to the United States and instead asked to be sent to Greece.

On Tuesday, he was still stuck on a stretch of road between the two countries and witnesses said he had tried to call reporters on the Turkish side.

Foreign IS fighters have been an important issue since the group's defeat in territory it controlled in Syria and Iraq.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stated that 2,500 such militants are in prison in Turkey.

Unfinished business since defeat of IS

There may be few more graphic illustrations than this of the unfinished business left over from the US-led coalition's military campaign to defeat IS.

More than 70 countries gathered to defeat and dismantle the jihadist caliphate that had terrorized huge swaths of Iraq and Syria. But as with other military campaigns in the Middle East, they failed to plan enough for the aftermath.

After the last battle against IS in Baghuz, Syria in March, thousands of IS fighters and their relatives were interned in the camps. Turkey, which has arrested IS members for several years, now has about 2,000 of them in their prisons.

Turkey, Iraq and the Kurdish authorities want all Europe and the West to hurry and take back their citizens, but so far governments have been extremely reluctant to do so, partly for fear that prosecution may fail.

Turkey's current deportations now threaten to force them into action.

Who else has Turkey deported?

Turkey's Interior Ministry said it had also deported a Danish who is alleged to be an IS member on Monday. Danish authorities said that their citizens had been arrested on arrival in Copenhagen.

Germany said that one of its citizens had also been expelled.

Turkey said that more than 20 other European suspects, including 11 French nationals, two Irish nationals and several Germans, are being repatriated to their countries of origin.

Turkey has long accused Western countries of refusing to take responsibility for citizens who joined the Islamic State.

Germany, Denmark and the United Kingdom have repeatedly abolished citizenship for allegedly joining jihadist groups abroad in an attempt to prevent their return.

Britain is said to have withdrawn citizenship from more than 100 people – among them recruiting IS Shamima Begum, who left London as a teenager.

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Media texts Shamima Begum told the BBC that she never tried to become a "poster girl"

On Tuesday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asked for international cooperation to resolve issues around foreign jihadists and says it was not up to Syria and Iraq "to solve the problem for everyone".

The UN has previously said that countries should take responsibility for their own citizens if they are not to be prosecuted locally, in accordance with international standards.

Turkey has not confirmed whether those repatriated were arrested in Syria or in Turkish territory.

Some IS members and their relatives were captured in northeastern Syria in October, when Turkey launched a cross-border operation against the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) there.

At that time, the SDF said it had more than 12,000 suspected IS members in seven prisons in the area, at least 4,000 of whom are unreported citizens.

Relatives of suspected IS militants were also held in a number of camps for displaced people – of which the largest, al-Hol, had nearly 70,000 people.

How will repatriations work?

A French Foreign Ministry source told AFP news agency last week that suspected jihadists were often returned to France from Turkey under a 2014 agreement.

"Jihadists and their families are regularly sent back to France and arrested when they leave the plane. Most of it is made secret. The news is not published or released much later, "the source said.

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AFP / Getty images

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A security patrol escorts women, allegedly women from Islamic State group fighters, to a camp in Syria

The German Ministry of the Interior said this week that "it did not want to oppose the return of German citizens".

A German Foreign Ministry official confirmed that legal proceedings involving at least three men, five women and two children are ongoing in Turkey.

On Monday, a court in the Netherlands decided that the country would take back the children of Dutch women who joined IS – but not necessarily their mothers.

About 23 Dutch women and their 56 children are currently being held in detention camps in Syria, AFP reports.

It is unclear whether Turkey will be able to return IS suspects who have had their citizenship revoked.


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