By AFP – Oct 20,2019 – JORDAN TIMES
PARIS — The refusal of the French government to take back Daesh fighters from Syria could fuel a new recruitment drive in France, threatening public safety, a leading anti-terrorism investigator has told AFP.
David De Pas, coordinator of France’s 12 anti-terrorism examining magistrates, said that it would be “better to know that these people are in the care of the judiciary” in France “than let them roam free”.
Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish militia in northeast Syria has sparked fears that some of the 12,000 extremists, including thousands of foreigners, being held in Syrian Kurdish prisons could escape.
Officials in Paris say 60 to 70 French fighters are among those held, with around 200 adults, including terrorists’ wives, being held in total, along with some 300 children.
France has refused to allow the adults return home, saying they must face local justice. So far Paris has only taken back a handful of children, mostly orphans.
This week, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian travelled to Iraq to try convince Baghdad to take in and try French extremists being held in northern Syria.
On Friday, in a rare interview, De Pas argued that instability in the region and the “porous nature” of the Syrian Kurdish prison camps risked triggering “uncontrolled migration of radicals to Europe, with the risk of attacks by very ideological people”.
The Turkish offensive, which has detracted the Kurds’ attention from fighting Daesh, could also facilitate the “re-emergence of battle-hardened, determined terrorist groups”.
This in turn could spur the establishment of new terrorist networks to supply “French citizens drawn to these groups”, he argued.
Warning of the risk of “a new vicious circle” of radicalised young French people travelling to Syria, De Pas called on the government to demonstrate “the political will to repatriate” the fighters.
Investigating magistrates are independent of the government, but it is extremely rare in France for them to publicly challenge policy.