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French, European Fears From ISIS Comeback

French, European Fears From ISIS Comeback

Friday, 29 December, 2017 - 08:15
ISIS Militants hanging their flag on a pole at the top of an ancient military fort after they cut a road through the Syrian-Iraqi border. (AFP)

The terrorism file returned to the forefront in Paris, and drove the attention of security officials after an ISIS extremist convicted of running a recruitment network in France, has been arrested in northern Syria.

The arrest of French national Thomas Barnouin, by fighters from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in the Hasaka area, revealed the presence of many ISIS cells that were capable to escape either from the hands of the Kurdish YPG units or from the Syrian army and their linked militias.

It is probable that Barnouin and several of his comrades were trying to leave Syria by crossing the Turkish borders from where they planned to return to France.

The return of European fighters does not only constitute a threat to the French authorities, but it remains a problem for five or six European states, including Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain, in addition to Belgium and the Netherlands.

According to French statistics, there are about 1,700 French nationals who moved to ISIS-controlled areas in Iraq and Syria.

From this number, at least 278 militants were killed, while 302 returned to France, including 244 adults and 58 minors.

As for the rest, they were either arrested by forces fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq, killed during the battles, or have escaped to the last remaining extremist pockets in the area, particularly in Libya.

Paris already sent commandos units to Iraq and Syria with a mission to trace down French fighters.

Numbers received by the French intelligence and the Defense Ministry uncover that hundreds of French extremists “disappeared” in the landscapes, pushing the French authorities to demand cooperation in this regard from Turkey and other European countries.

Barnouin converted to Islam in 2000 and he left France to Syria in 2014 after serving a five-year prison sentence for terrorist offences.

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