Turkey Resumes Deporting ISIS Foreign Militants
Turkish authorities have announced deporting nine Belgium national ISIS militants to their home country after more than three months of suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic and the halt of international flights.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Turkish Interior Ministry said the country's extradition of foreign terrorists continues.
It said a total of 338 ISIS terrorists have been deported since November 11, of which 113 are from Europe, the United States, and Australia.
Turkey launched the campaign to deport foreign fighters in November 2019, saying it would repatriate most detainees with suspected links to ISIS.
Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said Turkey is not a “hotel” for ISIS militants.
Speaking to reporters, Soylu said Turkey would send back any captured ISIS militant to his country even if his citizenship was revoked.
Authorities have earlier announced that more than 1,150 ISIS elements are detained in Turkey.
Meanwhile, the International Crisis Group said Turkey, like many countries, faces a challenge in dealing with citizens who traveled to join ISIS in Syria and Iraq and have now come home.
“Thousands of returnees have crossed back into Turkey. Some were involved in ISIS attacks between 2014 and 2017 on Turkish soil that killed nearly 300 civilians.”
According to its report on ISIS, which was published on Wednesday in Turkey, some returnees came under tight surveillance, and others were prosecuted and jailed.
However, it pointed out that those who returned early on are more likely to have remained undetected.
Due to the tight security measures, the report noted that the most recent ISIS attack on Turkish soil was a shooting at a nightclub on 1 January 2017 that killed 39 people.
“Since then, security agencies have kept ISIS in check, foiling plots through surveillance, detention, and tighter border security.”
Yet, the report indicated that the threat has not entirely disappeared, as “Turkish officials themselves admit.”
It said at first, Turkey underestimated the threat that returnees could pose and in 2014-2015 remained largely ambivalent toward ISIS recruitment.
The report shed light on what ISIS returnees have made upon their arrival in Turkish soil. Some were rejected and chose to turn away from their past contacts, and some feared prosecution and lead hidden lives in Turkey’s big cities.
Others, however, have simply folded back into their old social networks, including in areas that in the past were fertile ground for recruiters.