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

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Henry Sa­muel and Josie En­sor

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

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