Turkey deported another foreign terrorist fighter – a member of the Daesh terrorist organization – to his home country of Norway, the Turkey Interior Ministry said Thursday.
Ankara is moving forward with its campaign to repatriate all terrorists with foreign nationalities amid a series of counterterrorism operations. As part of Turkey’s ramped-up efforts to repatriate foreign terrorists, the Interior Ministry said on Nov. 9 that the country would begin extraditing captured Daesh terrorists to their home countries.
There were more than 1,000 foreign terrorist fighters in Turkey’s repatriation centers. Almost 780 of them were deported back to their countries of origin in 2019, said Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.
The issue of the handling of Daesh members and their families detained in Syria, including foreign members of the terror group, has been controversial, with Turkey arguing foreign-born terrorists should be returned to their countries of origin.
Turkey has long voiced calls for returning foreign fighters to their respective countries as the best possible solution among other unfavorable alternatives. By being returned to the European Union, the detainees might be prosecuted and thus prevented from being further radicalized in camps filled with fellow former combatants.
Ankara has said several European countries turned down its efforts to send Daesh members back to their countries.
The issue of repatriating citizens who fought for Daesh in Syria remains a divisive problem in Europe, with many countries refusing to accept the terrorists.
Turkey has criticized Western countries for refusing to repatriate their citizens who left to join Daesh in Syria and Iraq, and stripping some of them of their citizenship. Although the 1961 New York Convention made it illegal to leave people stateless, several countries, including Britain and France, have not ratified it, and recent cases have triggered prolonged legal battles. The U.K. alone has stripped more than 100 people of their citizenship for allegedly joining terrorist groups abroad.
The first batch of former Daesh terrorists to be repatriated from 28 detainment centers based in 23 of Turkey’s provinces were of German, Danish and U.S. origin. Of these, the U.S. citizen had requested to be sent to Greece yet was left in a buffer zone when the country did not accept him. Terrorist fighters from Germany, the U.K., the Netherlands and Belgium have all been successfully sent back, followed by an Irish citizen, according to the Interior Ministry.
“No matter what, we will send Daesh members back. We are not their hotel,” Soylu said at the beginning phase of the process.
Turkey recognized Daesh as a terrorist organization in 2013. Since then, the country has been attacked by Daesh terrorists numerous of times, including 10 suicide bombings, seven bombings and four armed attacks, which killed 315 people and injured hundreds more.
In response, Turkey has launched military and police operations inside the country and abroad. Turkey has been actively conducting counterterrorism operations against Daesh since 2016. Since then, 4,517 of the 13,696 suspects detained in 4,536 operations have been arrested. Over the course of the operations, 1,018 terrorists were either killed, injured or surrendered. In order to apprehend Daesh suspects, 64 risk analysis units that include experts on terrorism and intelligence were formed across the country. The units regularly monitor suspects that operate within their region, as well as all other developments regarding the terrorist group, both within and outside the country.