French prison cell for the ‘Isil matchmaker’
Turkey send suspect to the country she left as a child despite her wishes to return to Britain
An Isil suspect, stripped of her British residency, has been deported by Turkey to France, her birthplace. Tooba Gondal, 25, who grew up in London’s East End, is accused of luring girls, including Shamima Begum, to Syria as Isil brides. She is in custody and her two children are in care.
TURKEY has deported to France the “Islamic State matchmaker” who lured a British teenage bride to Syria as part of a drive to send foreign fighters back to their countries of origin.
Tooba Gondal, 25, is among 11 French nationals Turkey repatriated early yesterday, according to France’s Centre for Analysis of Terrorism (CAT) citing official sources.
A French judicial source confirmed that four women and their seven children had arrived in France. Two of the women were already subject to arrest warrants and will soon face a judge, while the other two were sought by police and have been placed in custody, the French source said. The children have been taken into care.
Ms Gondal, from Walthamstow, east London, has been “detained for questioning” and faces terror charges, said CAT. She will then likely be detained while awaiting trial. She was born in France but moved to London as a child and had British residency.
A source close to the family told The Daily Telegraph they were upset by the UK’S decision to refuse her return.
“Her kids most certainly will go into foster care away from her and any of her family in Britain,” said the source.
Ms Gondal has been accused of acting as an online recruiter and “matchmaker” for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) luring women to Syria to marry fighters. Shamima Begum, the schoolgirl from Bethnal Green, London, was reportedly among them. In October, Ms Gondal told The Telegraph she and her two infant children had joined a mass breakout by suspected Isil women from the Ain Issa camp after Turkey launched its offensive into Syria. She said she wanted to return to the UK.
“I want to go home, see my family,” said the former Goldsmiths, University of London, student. “But if I am not able, I want to seek refuge in Turkey.”
Last month, Turkey stepped up the return of Isil suspects to their countries of origin from Syria and Turkish jails, saying that Turkey was “not a hotel” for foreign fighters. It took the action after criticism from Western countries, particularly France, of its military offensive against Kurdish forces in Syria.
The move has posed a conundrum for European governments over how to manage the return of radicalised militants. Britain has taken one of the strongest stances against the return of its nationals, depriving many of their citizenship.
Under a 2014 accord between France and Turkey, Paris agreed to take back jihadists trying to return home from Syria via Turkey, and incarcerate them at home. Some 300 have been thus returned in the past five years.
But France is keen on foreign suspects being tried near their place of arrest – notably Iraq, where several of its nationals have recently been sentenced to death.
Turkey says it has about 1,200 foreign Isil members in custody. There are understood to be about 10 British men, 20 women and 30 children in Kurdishrun camps and prisons around northeast Syria.
Meanwhile the uncle of Bashar alassad, the Syrian president, stood trial in Paris yesterday, accused of pumping tens of millions of pounds of “ill-gotten gains” into a vast property empire for himself, and his extended family.
Rifaat al-assad, who did not appear in court “for medical reasons”, is accused of money laundering in building a €90 million (£76 million) French property portfolio. He reportedly owns two Paris townhouses, 40 luxury flats, a stud farm, a chateau and 845,000 square feet of office space in Lyon. He denies the charges.
Tooba Gondal was held with other Isil suspects in the Ain Issa camp, but escaped with her children in a mass breakout
Tooba Gondal pictured before she left her home in Walthamstow to travel to Syria