An American citizen alleged by Turkey to be an Islamic State member has returned to the United States. According to a government report obtained by The Associated Press, federal authorities questioned the man when he arrived Friday night at Dulles International Airport in Virginia and inspected his electronic devices.
The report says he was allowed to enter the country en route to visit relatives in Texas. Media in Turkey have identified the man as 39-year-old Muhammad Darwis B. Turkey deported him after he spent five days in no man’s land between Turkey and Greece, where he had asked to be sent. Repatriation began after the U.S. agreed to accept him and provided travel documents.
Turkey captured suspected IS members during its offensive in Syria and is returning foreigners to their countries of origin. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has warned European nations that his country could release Islamic State group prisoners and send them back to Europe, in response to EU sanctions over Cyprus.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday before a visit to the United States, Erdogan also said Turkey would continue repatriating foreign Islamic State militants to their home countries, even if they decline to take them back. Erdogan’s comments were in response to the EU’s unveiling on Monday of a system for imposing sanctions on Turkey over its unauthorized gas drilling in Mediterranean waters off Cyprus. Erdogan warned EU countries: “You should revise your stance toward Turkey, which holds so many IS members in prison and controls them in Syria.”
Turkey has accused the Syrian Kurdish forces it is fighting in northeastern Syria of releasing IS families from camps last month. There has been a widespread international concern that thousands of IS detainees in Syria could escape. The Turkish Minister said about 1,200 foreign IS fighters were in Turkish prisons and 287 members, including women and children, were re-captured during Turkey’s offensive in Syria.
After American media reports stated that US forces have targeted and killed the Islamic State chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Turkey on Sunday claimed that there was 'coordination' between Ankara and Washington before the operation. "Prior to the US Operation in Idlib Province of Syria last night, information exchange and coordination between the military authorities of both countries took place," the Turkish defence ministry said in a tweet. However, the ministry did not share any details or evidence to back up this statement.
Turkish authorities informed that 25 close relatives of Baghdadi have been remanded by a Turkey Court for "being members of the armed terror group," according to the statement. Following the interrogations, 21 suspects, including two children were sent to a repatriation Centre in Turkey. On November 5, Turkey captured the sister and brother-in-law of Baghdadi in northern Syria and one of his wives two days later.
(With AP inputs)