German authorities have detained an Islamist who was expelled with his family from Turkey. Ankara has been deporting individuals with alleged affiliation to the “Islamic State” terror outfit to their countries of origin.
The father of a family of seven, expelled by Turkey on Thursday, was taken into custody on arrivalin Germany, said Martin Pallgen, a spokesman for the Berlin state Interior Ministry.
A warrant for his arrest is understood not to be terrorism-related.
The man, who is considered a member of the Salafist movement, is currently in a Berlin prison awaiting transfer to the state of Lower Saxony.
Pallgen said the rest of the family — the suspect’s wife, his two sons, two daughters and one grandchild — had left Berlin, where they arrived late Thursday from Turkey. Turkey described them as “foreign terrorist fighters.”
Ankara this week started repatriating foreign jihadists to their home countries, saying that Turkey was “not a hotel” for foreign fighters and suspected members of the “Islamic State” terror group.
Turkish authorities allege that the man’s family was connected to IS and had planned to travel to Syria after arriving in Turkey earlier this year before they were arrested and placed in custody awaiting deportation.
But a spokesman for the German Interior Ministry said he was not aware of the family’s ties to IS.
Should Germany take back IS members in Syrian prisons?
One of the women, identified only as Nasim A., was detained upon her return, accused of “being a member of a terrorist organization in a foreign country.” A judge decreed that she should formally be arrested on Saturday.
Federal prosecutors said the suspect had left Germany for Syria in 2014, married a fighter and moved with him to Iraq and later Syria. She was paid to maintain an IS-controlled house and carried a weapon.
The whereabouts of many Islamic State suspects are in doubt after a Turkish military offensive in northeastern Syria caused the Kurdish-led forces there to abandon the prisons that they had been guarding in the region.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday that each suspected Islamist deported by Turkey would be assessed in counterterrorism centers run by the federal government and the individual states.
“Naturally it will be ensured that no danger arises from these people,” she said, adding that if the authorities did deem them a threat “the usual legal procedures” would apply.
Ninety-five German suspected IS supporters are believed to be in custody in Turkey, Syria, or Iraq. German police have active investigations against 33 of them and arrest warrants have been issued in 26 cases, according to the dpa news agency.