'Hundreds' of British Daesh fighters in Turkey, prompting terror fears in Europe

Iraqi forces are seen flashing the sign for victory in Iraq’s western Anbar province near the Syrian border after retaking it from Daesh jihadists a day earlier (AFP)
Updated 27 December 2017

'Hundreds' of British Daesh fighters in Turkey, prompting terror fears in Europe

LONDON: Hundreds of British fighters who joined Daesh are believed to be hiding in Turkey, adding to fears of an increased threat of terror attacks in Europe, according to reports.
Thousands of extremists fled to Turkey after the terror group lost its grip on the strongholds of Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq this year, The Times of London reported.
Ciwan Xhalil, a Syrian Kurdish intelligence officer who collaborates with Western intelligence agencies over foreign Daesh fighters, told The Times that most British Daesh fighters had fled Syria and gone to Turkey.
“The exodus began after Mosul (in Iraq) fell and continued after (Daesh) lost Raqqa. We have lots of French in our jails and scores of other nationals but we think most of the British have escaped,” he said.
About 850 Britons traveled to join Daesh, of whom about half have returned. About 130 are confirmed dead.
The figure is higher than the 300 returnees to Germany and 271 to France.
The report warned there has also been a surge in the number of women involved in attacks — with nearly a quarter of terror plots in Europe from the start of 2017 to May involving women.
Meanwhile, according to the US-led international coalition fighting the militant group, fewer than 1,000 Daesh fighters remain in Iraq and Syria, a third of the estimated figure only three weeks ago.
“Due to the commitment of the Coalition and the demonstrated competence of our partners in Iraq and Syria, there are estimated to be less than 1,000 ISIS (Daesh) terrorists in our combined joint area of operations, most of whom are being hunted down in the desert regions in eastern Syria and Western Iraq,” the US-led coalition told Reuters in an emailed statement.
Moreover, British security sources said it is increasingly difficult to leave Turkey and return to Britain without being flagged. Returning terror fighters are stopped and questioned by the MI5 security service and police and will be prosecuted if there is evidence that they fought for the caliphate.
The authorities also deploy covert techniques to track down extremists. American intelligence sources said that the CIA and MI6 were coordinating to track a cadre of foreign Daesh fighters.
Although only three of the 40 attacks in Europe since 2015 have involved foreign terrorist fighters returning from Syria and Iraq, those incidents caused more than half the fatalities.
The threat level in Britain remains at “severe,” meaning that further attacks are likely. The country is dealing with one of the worst cases of homegrown radicalization in Europe, and the chief of Britain’s MI5 domestic security service warned in October that the threat of extremist attacks in Britain was at its “highest tempo” in his three-decade career. British security services have foiled almost a dozen attack plots this year.


French officers detained after fury over beating video

Updated 51 min 48 sec ago

French officers detained after fury over beating video

  • Images published by the Loopsider website show how music producer Michel Zecler was repeatedly beaten by police
  • Celebrities including football World Cup winners Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann condemned the beating

PARIS: French authorities on Friday detained four officers suspected of beating and racially abusing a black music producer in Paris in a case that has shocked President Emmanuel Macron and drawn outrage from celebrities and sports stars.
Images published by the Loopsider website show how music producer Michel Zecler was repeatedly beaten by police for several minutes and subjected to racial abuse as he tried to enter his music studio Saturday evening.
Celebrities including football World Cup winners Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann condemned the beating, while French star singer Aya Nakamura said she wished the producer strength, adding “thank you to those who filmed.”
A presidential official said Friday that Macron, too, was “very shocked” by the images.
The incident raised questions over the future of Paris police chief Didier Lallement, already in the spotlight after the controversial forced removal of a migrant camp in Paris earlier in the week.
It also put the government on the backfoot as it tries to push through new security legislation that would restrict the right of the media to publish the faces of police agents.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who is in charge of the police forces, told French television that the officers tarnished the reputation of France’s security forces.
The four officers, all men, were detained for questioning on Friday, a source close to the case told AFP.
The officers, who had already been suspended from duty, were being held at the National Police Inspectorate General (IGPN), and prosecutors opened an investigation into violence by a person in authority and false testimony, the source said.
Three of the four were being questioned on suspicion of “violence with a racist motive” committed intentionally in a group, prosecutors said. The fourth is being questioned on suspicion of using violence but is not accused of racism.
Zecler was initially himself detained for causing violence, but prosecutors threw out that probe and began investigating the officers instead.
Macron on Thursday held talks with Darmanin to call for tough punishments for those involved in the beating, a government source added.
“Nausea,” said the front page headline in the leftist Liberation daily over a close-up picture of Zecler’s swollen and bloodied face.
“The new video of a rare ferocity... adds to a problem fed over the last months by a succession of blunders and a tendency to revert to authoritarian tendencies,” it said.
The death in US police custody of George Floyd in May and the Black Lives Matter movement have reverberated in France where allegations of brutality against police officers are commonplace, particularly in poor and ethnically diverse urban areas.
“French police has a structural problem with violence, violence that is committed against visible minorities,” Fabien Jobard, a sociologist, told AFP.
“Unbearable video, unacceptable violence,” Mbappe wrote on Twitter next to a picture of the injured producer. “Say no to racism.”
The outcry comes after the lower house of parliament on Tuesday evening approved a security bill which would restrict the publication of photos or videos of police officers’ faces.
Media unions say it could give police a green light to prevent journalists from potentially documenting abuses, as well as stopping social media users from posting incriminating footage.
A protest against the draft law, which has yet to pass a Senate vote, has been called for Saturday in Paris.
In a sign that the government could be preparing to backtrack, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced late Thursday that he would appoint a commission to redraft Article 24 of the law that would restrict the publication of images of the police.
But this in turn sparked accusations that the prime minister was trying to bypass the legislature.
“It is not for the government to substitute the work of an external committee in the place of parliamentary prerogatives,” the speaker of the lower house Richard Ferrand told Castex, his office said.
Macron swept to power in 2017 as a centrist who rallied support from across the political spectrum. But critics and even some supporters accuse him of tilting to the right as he seeks re-election in 2022.
“Already accused of attacking public freedoms through the security bill... the executive faces an accumulation of cases of violence and police abuse, the images of which have disturbed even the ruling party,” said Le Monde daily.